Whether your co-worker is sending threatening emails or you’re being targeted on social media, some workplace bullies use the internet to intimidate others. Here’s how to deal with a cyberbully at work.
Most people consider cyberbullying a teenage issue, but the workplace is not immune to cyberbullying. In fact, workplace bullies often use cyberbullying to intimidate coworkers and control their environment. As a result, knowing how to respond is essential. While every situation is different, if you know in advance how to handle a workplace cyberbully, you should be able to get through the situation unscathed. Here are 11 ways to handle cyberbullying at work.
Do Not Respond Immediately
When a coworker or a supervisor says something inflammatory, posts something untrue or attacks you online, take a moment to gather your thoughts. No matter how much the words hurt you, do not respond in anger. Instead, take a deep breath and collect yourself. The goal is not to react but to respond in a reasonable manner. Sometimes there is no need to respond. Other times your job requires that you maintain contact with the person.
Keep Your Response Calm and Rational
Although it is usually best to ignore a cyberbully, sometimes work situations require that you respond to an email or other forms of communication. If you can respond in person rather than in writing do that. But do not get into a shouting match. It’s also not a good idea to lash out with angry words and accusations of your own. You do not want the entire office watching an exchange between you and another co-worker.
Tell the Cyberbully You Expect the Behavior to End
Remember, your interpretation of the written word may be different than intended. So be sure to communicate openly and honestly about what you found offensive. Do not resort to threats but instead, calmly indicate that you were offended. Be sure the cyberbully knows that you want the comments to stop. If your co-worker’s behavior doesn’t change and the cyberbullying continues, it’s time to move up the chain of command.
Print and Keep Copies of All the Harassment
Try to save all messages, comments, and posts as evidence. This includes emails, blog posts, social media posts, tweets, text messages and so on. Although your first reaction may be to delete everything, without evidence you have no proof of the cyberbullying.
Report the Cyberbullying to Your Employer
Include a copy of the emails or other correspondence for their files. It is important that you continue to report each incident that occurs. If your employer is unwilling to respond or address the cyberbullying, consider contacting the police to file a report. While they may not be able to do anything legally, having a report on file is important should the bullying escalate.
Report the Cyberbullying to Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
When cyberbullying occurs on your personal accounts or happens at home, it’s important that you report the incidents. Be sure to forward copies of the cyberbullying to your ISP. If the bullying occurred on a social networking site, be sure to report it to them as well.
Contact the Police Immediately if the Cyberbullying Includes Threats
Threats of death, threats of physical violence or indications of stalking behaviors are against the law and should be reported immediately. You should also report any harassment that continues over an extended period of time as well as any correspondence that includes harassment based on race, religion or disability. The police will address these incidents.
Close the Doors of Communication to the Cyberbully
Cancel current social networking and personal email accounts and open new accounts. If the cyberbullying is happening via cell phone, change your cell number and get an unlisted number. Then, block the cyberbully from your new social networking sites, email accounts, and cell phones. Find out if your company’s email program has a filter that allows only those on your “safe” list to send you emails. And if possible limit your online communication at work too.
Report Anonymous Cyberbullying
Many times, the police can track down who is sending the emails and messages. Remember, you don’t have not have to put up with cyberbullying. Many times, cyberbullying will leave a clear trail of evidence that is reported to the appropriate authorities can go a long way in putting an end to it.
Take the High Road
No matter what the person says or does, try to maintain your composure at work. The goal is to remain calm and rational. If you get upset, post negative things or say something you later regret, this could hurt your position at work. Remember, the cyberbully is hoping to get a reaction out of you. Do not allow this to happen. Be as professional as possible at all times.
Cyberbullying is a big issue that shouldn’t be handled alone. Be sure to surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Look for people who can understand what you are going through. Remember, it helps to talk to someone about what you are experiencing. So consider seeking professional help or counseling so that you can heal from the ordeal.
To access your AWP EAP services, call 1-800-343-3822. Your EAP is here to help with family, work, health and legal issues. EAP Services are provided at no cost and are 100% confidential.
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