What is cyberbullying and what can you do to get it to stop?
Cyberbullying is defined as the use of electronic media to bully or harrass an individual. Cyber bullying in the workplace can take a variety of forms. It can be intimidation or abuse from a co-worker. It can be an anonymous attempt to destroy your reputation or it could also just be trolling by someone bored.
How you deal with it depends on what exactly is happening and who is doing it.
However there are some things that need to be done regardless.
1) Document. The only good thing about cyber bullying is that it is super easy to document. Print out and make copies of every single online exchange from the bully o that you can address it more effectively with. Documentation provides you with a better understand of when and how you are being harassed and it provides you and possibly law enforcement with the means to defend yourself in a legal setting if it comes down to it.
2) Identify: Label what is happening correctly. Cyberbullying is a meaningless a term. It doesn’t specify what exactly is happening. Are you being called names? Is someone lying about you? Is someone trolling you to get you upset? Is a boss being abusive? All of these are forms of cyberbullying and all require different responses. The first step to getting your problem solved is to define it properly.
3) Strategy: Once you have identified the specific form of cyberbullying you are experiencing you can develop a strategy for it. Can you block this person? Do you need to legally defend yourself from defamation? Are you receiving threats that are better handled by law enforcement as part of what might actually be cyber stalking? If the cyber bullying is being done by a co-worker or your boss, who can you go to for help that will actually be able to take productive action. In order to be taken seriously, you need your documentation and don’t ever give over your only copy to people helping you. Keep a set for yourself.
You get cyber bullying to stop in much the same way you get regular bullying to stop. You refuse to provide the bully with the reward they are getting for their bad behavior. This can be done by simply calling out their bad behavior, blocking them, or simply not responding to them. If it is bad enough and harming your reputation it is essential that you report all incidences to either HR or to your boss. Again, your documentation will be essential in this regard because while it is very easy for a manager to ignore complaints that someone called you a bad name as a he said she said disagreement. It is much harder for them to ignore a stack of 20 to 30 emails that contain foul language and inappropriate comments.
In all cases, you need to be prepared for an expect the backlash that will result when you start reporting or when you stop rewarding the bully.
What will get you through that backlash? Knowing that despite it all, you are doing the right thing. You are helping yourself and helping your co-workers by being brave enough to stand up for what is right. Always remember, if you are being victimized, chances are, others are too. You have more support than you realize.
Have you experienced cyberbullying in the workplace? How did you handle it? Or did you just put your head down and hope it would blow over? If so, what do you wish you had done?