Cyberbullying in the workplace: when bullies use technology to launch their attacks
“You should know better.” That was the ominous text message Laura, a registered nurse at a large medical center, received from 20 people at 11 a.m. one morning…
She was stunned. What was going on, she wondered to herself. What did the message mean? And why would anyone, let alone 20 people, text you the same message?
Laura went home that night shocked and perplexed. After a sleepless night, she found out. She had been at her job for only a week. She had replaced a popular supervisor, who had left abruptly without explanation. Laura’s employer had assured Laura that her staff would accept her. Obviously, they hadn’t.
Laura’s co-workers were taking advantage of a relatively new electronic means of workplace bullying in the workplace. Laura was the target of cyber bullying. Cyberbullying is bullying that uses technology: cell phones, email, or the Internet, for example. Although the term was first applied to adolescents, it is quickly being used to apply to behavior adults experience in the workplace as well.
Cyberbullying can take workplace bullying to a new level. We all know how quickly emails can spread information. Imagine how word spreads when emails or text messages carry unverified rumors about a target.
Also, where workplace bullying typically pits one bully against one target, cyber bullying can easily take the form of cyber bullying where there are many people against one target. All workplace bullies need to know is your email address or phone number. They can remain anonymous with an assumed email identity or block their number when they call you.
Knowing this, here is what you can do to stop cyberbullying or even cyberbullying:
o Save emails that contain bullying messages. Your company may have a way to find out who owns that account, and then you can block that email address from sending you anything. Additionally, email can serve as evidence that you are being bullied.
o Do not use your work email address for anything other than work. Set up a different email account for personal use.
o Don’t tell your online “friends” (those you meet through social networking sites) the name of your business. It’s relatively easy to figure out someone’s work email address if you know their name and the company they work for.
o Find out if your email program has a filter that allows only those on your “safe” list to send you email. They have to be approved by you. Download an email verification program from the Internet that ensures you are in control of who is sending you emails. Any unknown senders should be directed to you first; You can accept or reject any request for an email address.
o When it comes to texting, you can also block phone numbers, once you identify a stalker’s number. Just call your cell phone company to coordinate the lock.
Cyberbullying is a very passive form of bullying. It is just as serious as any other form of workplace bullying and has the potential to be even more insidious. You can take steps to block and verify who is contacting you to regain some control. Remember, the stalker’s nature is to try to take your power because they feel they don’t have their own. You don’t have to give them anything and you have every right to set these personal boundaries. You’re worth it!