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Western Counsellor

Caring guidance, empathic and non-judgemental approach

My Blog


Managing "White Anters" Socially and Professionally

Posted on December 16, 2019 at 4:30 AM
What is White Anting?
As the name implies, “white anting” refers to a form of sabotage which is so subtle, it can be difficult to identify or expose. It is a covert form of bullying that aims to undermine or discredit the achievements and influence of another. 

These white anting strategies might include:
  • Setting the target up for failure (for example with unrealistic time frames);
  • Micro managing;
  • Leaving the target out of emails and meetings;
  • Spreading rumours and false information;
  • Filtering work in other directions, rather than to the target;
  • Resisting new ideas and initiatives;
  • Forming alliances with others;
  • Stealing ideas and passing them off as their own.

An Example of White Anting
Amanda a keen sports person wanted to try a new social activity, so she went along to the local bowling club in her neighbourhood where she could also make new friends. After a period of learning the game, Amanda became confident and wanted to join the team to play competition bowls. 
Amanda made the bowls team and played a few rounds of competition with a few wins. Amanda was enjoying her social activity and getting along with the team. The next competitive game Amanda found herself isolated from the team and was being physically pushed out of the way and shunned by other team members. Amanda felt very uncomfortable and approached the person who claimed it was a accident  = however, the behaviour continued periodically.  Amanda was very disheartened and lacked motivation to continue with  playing competition bowls that she decided not to return to the Club the following season.

Later that year Amanda received a call from one of her friends from the bowling club who was surprised that she hadn't returned for the new season. In conversation, Amanda learned of a rumour  that she had four children ( 5-14) and left them home to fend for themselves while she played bowls.  This filtered through the Club to other team members  and led to Amanda's reputation being tarnished.

This was not true as Amanada has no children and worked as an Advocate in the Department for Child Protection.

The Effects of White Anting
It is hardly surprising that  "white anting" can have a toxic effect not only on a workplace but also on sporting teams, creating discord and dissatisfaction.
Many team members may simply move on (like Amanda), and management and sporting teams are left no wiser as to why they are losing some of their most valuable  and talented team members.

What Leads to White Anting Behaviour?
Like any form of bullying, 'white anting" stems from a lack of self-confidence. Feeling threatened, the individual turns to subtly undermining other/s, in a way to make themselves look and feel better.

Unfortunately, by the time anybody recognises the 'white ant's' activity, the damage has already been done. The target may feel that their story will not be taken seriously, or that *they* may in fact be seen as the problem, leaving them feeling discouraged and helpless.  The target can also experience low self esteem, lack of confidence and anxiety leading to, in extreme cases, depression.

Have you been the target of a 'white anter'? Share your experience and contact me for help on 0416189601.

Best wishes to all my readers for the Festive Season and 2020

Categories: White Anters

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