My name is Claude de Scorraille, I intervene in many situations of harassment, on the initiative of people who come to consult me ​​because they are under the influence of a person: a spouse, a line manager, an employee, a colleague (certain work pairs), a client... What surprised me the most during my first interventions was how each of the parties said they were victims and how each from their point of view had reasons to to be right. And it was very disturbing...

Hello I am Claude de Scorraille, I intervene in many situations of harassment, either at the initiative of people who come to consult me ​​because they are under the influence of a person: a spouse, a line manager, an employee , a colleague (certain work pairs), a client, etc.

I can be asked more and more to intervene in situations where a suspicion of harassment is in progress, in this case, it is rather, a company which solicits us, most often, a manager is accused by name of mistreatment, a collective complaint has taken place, but the evidence is not clearly established. In this case, we are led to intervene with the person designated as "harasser", he generally says that he is unfairly accused of harassment.

What surprised me the most during my first interventions was how each of the parties claimed to be victims and how each of their points of view had reasons to be right. And it was very disturbing.

But, first of all, let's come back to the concept of harassment: since when have you been talking about it?

In 1998, Marie France Hirigoyen published a book on moral harassment which had a great echo. So we've been talking about it for almost 20 years.

A word was put down that made sense on a daily violence that was felt, the legislation took hold of the subject, in a process of regulation, with a first law in 2002, revisited in 2012.

Along with the law, there has also been a shift in qualifications: from stalker to narcissistic pervert, or from someone who does something reprehensible to someone who has a dangerous quality in himself. In a way, we have gone from a delinquent act that can be committed by a healthy person to a crazy act, that is to say a delinquent act committed by a person assessed as unhealthy.

What we can say in conclusion is that a stalker, whether or not he is a narcissistic pervert, is synonymous with danger. In a work situation, the other with whom we must cooperate and negotiate things at work, can become an adversary, that is to say no longer someone with whom we can be in a controversy, which is the framework of a debate and a negotiation, no longer as someone with whom one can be a playing partner where the question of rivalry is present as in any case of competition, but as an enemy that must be fought, in a way offensive or defensive. In this case the work situation becomes the theater of a war frame. AND it is the logic of the strongest that will predominate / Strength is characterized by the resources at our disposal (status, decision-making power, for example or just as well by a status of victim) and when the observation of one's own resources is weak so we rely on allies (N+2, HR, elected officials, medicine, justice).

In fact, the treatment of harassment situations is extremely exhausting, and the victims of these situations suffer from symptoms (anxiety, panic attacks, lack of sleep, loss of appetite, somatizations, etc.) observed by doctors (contractors, work), which often lead to work stoppages,… and medical or non-medicated care (we go to the shrink) and when this persists, the legal route is often taken. AND in this case, justice validates the victim status of a person, it has evidence for this but rarely recognizes the guilt of the stalker. The victim is then recognized, but she acquires a partial recognition of her situation, the victory is bitter. And the pain continues. With all its possible side effects.

Dealing with harassment does not end the harassment. The treatment that is made of it isolates the problem that it constitutes, in a causal perspective that establishes a victim on the one hand and an executioner on the other (as well, the company, the management, the manager, the colleague) .

In conclusion, as we pose the problem of harassment, we have seen for 20 years a proliferation of two concomitant paths, pathologization and judicialization, always with the same observation: the persistence of complaints for harassment and the suffering is associated, at both ends of the relationship, because it is claimed both by the harasser and by the harassed.

So we, in our approach, approach this type of situation in a completely different way. Globally. We aim to regulate the situation. We wonder how the harassment is maintained and worsens.

For us, it is the relationship between an individual and his environment that can produce a situation of harassment. Or each becomes a victim of the relationship, one in a high, harassing position, the other in a low, harassed position. Or neither of them will be able to relinquish their position: high or low, they will find themselves polarized in this posture, the interactional dynamic that binds them will become rigid in a complementary way where the more one submits the more the other dominates. Giulia who is a great specialist in the subject will give you an example.

In our approach, we observe situations in their interactional dimension, as they play out when we intervene: who does what to whom with what effect? who is mobilized in the situation? who complains about whom and what? what are you trying to do to calm things down? with what efficiency?

Basically what is the perception of the actors involved in the situation (not only the harasser, the harassed)? what are their reactions? that is, how do they react? according to a logic of avoidance? according to a logic of confrontation? And. what does that build as a belief? that we can cope or that we are more and more resigned because more and more powerless?)

We move away from a linear logic, which would consist in establishing a truth, and we approach the interactional process which observes the relationship in a circular logic the action of one provokes the action of the other, and each one undergoes it the effects

Another characteristic of our approach is that we defend a non-normative view of human behavior. We do not think that a human being is bad in itself, nor that a work organization is pathological in itself. We believe that dysfunction is the result of a costly balance that corresponds to the way in which the interctional dynamics of a problematic situation are stabilized. In this case, a rigid complementary relationship in the case of harassment situations.

Finally, our approach is strategic. This means that our interventions aim to reactivate the action of our interlocutors in a logic of growth, and no longer in a painful status quo which, for example, makes harassment a very toxic end in itself. Our interventions are aimed at stopping the attempts at solutions which prove to be ineffective, an excess of avoidance, an excess of confrontation... and when this type of behavior proves to be ineffective, of course it builds certainties, therefore beliefs which contribute to the problem and all the more justify behaviors of resignation in the face of their powerlessness to face a danger. And in this case, the control lines are abandoned…. We capitulate by giving meaning. But as Gustave Lebon would say, even the most ferocious beast ends up obeying its tamer when it could devour him...

Giulia will now tell you more…

And if you want more

We have written a book, with my associates from LACT, Olivier Brosseau and Grégoire Vitry, which is called When work hurts. A whole chapter is devoted to harassment at work.

I leave the floor to Grégoire before he leaves it to Giulia

And we'll meet for a chat afterwards