A Culture of Fear: Lunch
Bob recently went out for lunch with his friend Tom who also works at his office and is a casual acquaintance of a Director at the college who tells people she hates Bob. Tom and Bob saw the Director leaving for lunch with her Assistant Director so Tom suggested they go somewhere for lunch where the Director and her friends don't normally go. Tom told Bob, "It's crazy how much they hate you."
After they drove to the restaurant Tom asked to drive through the parking lot to make sure the Director's car wasn't there before they went inside. When Bob and Tom went inside they looked around to make sure none of the Director's friends from the college were there (such as certain Administrators, Director-level staff, VPSDs, and other leaders of the college).
Tom explained, “It would be awkward for me if they saw me with you.”
Tom meant that if he was seen with Bob by the wrong people Tom would risk being socially ostracized and professionally marginalized by the Director-who-hates-Bob. Tom is afraid he will become a target of the Director and her friends if he does not agree to socially and professionally ostracize Bob also. (see mobbing)
After lunch they returned to the office, parking in the far parking lot out of sight of any of the Director's friend’s offices. On their way walking back through the parking lot Bob and Tom spot another Director, a close friend of the Director-who-hates-Bob, coming down the stairs. Bob knew what to do – he stepped away from his friend and left him behind so he could say they only coincidentally met in the parking lot. Bob tried to give Tom plausible deniability.
That’s what living in a Culture of Fear is like for the targets of bullies and their friends. Bullying changes behavior; it changes relationships; it destroys trust; it destroys the effectiveness and productivity of the people involved and the organization.
In a Culture of Fear people are afraid of their co-workers and colleagues. And it is sad that the Administration of the college continues to allow this type of situation to occur, year after year.
20% of co-workers who witness the bullying of others leave their jobs because of it.