How To Handle Cyberbullying
This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
When most people leave childhood, they believe they are leaving all forms of bullying behind them. However, not every adult matures after childhood, and many bring their bullying and threatening behavior with them into adulthood. Though adult bullying is often labeled as harassment or similar adjectives, at the root of it all, this behavior is still bullying.
Though there have been many benefits of recent technological advances, unfortunately, technology has made it much easier to bully others with fewer repercussions. Entrepreneurs and employees alike experience many forms of cyberbullying each year and struggle with its effects on their mental health.
However, few people know how to handle bullying in the cyber age and often engage in behaviors that only make it worse. Below is more information on what cyberbullying is and how you can effectively handle it throughout your career.
What Is Cyberbullying?
When you think of cyberbullying, you probably think about children bullying each other over Facebook or while playing online video games. However, adults can be bullies just as much as children, and the behavior maybe even more acceptable or unchallenged in adulthood.
So whether you work at a typical business or are creating your own as an entrepreneur, you may encounter cyberbullying at some point. From colleagues, people in your network, or anyone else who is jealous of your success or disagrees with your views, anyone you know (or don’t know personally) may end up being a bully.
Cyberbullying in the workplace can take many forms. Though the most stereotypical form is through social media messaging and posts, people can also cyberbully you through email, text messaging, or an employer’s internal communication system.
How Cyberbullying Can Affect You And Your Career
We all would like to think that in adulthood, we are no longer susceptible to the mean comments of strangers or peers online. However, this is rarely the case. Cyberbullying can cause significant distress and harm the mental health of any person of any age. Here are a few common effects of cyberbullying on employees and entrepreneurs.
Those who tend to internalize negativity, threats, and other bullying behavior will often see a sharp decline in their self-esteem. Even normally confident and self-assured people may struggle with low self-esteem when experiencing cyberbullying. Self-esteem is vital for career success, whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur. Without confidence, you struggle to believe in yourself and, therefore, lose motivation and steam towards your career goals.
The words and messages of a bully can stay with a person all day. Frequent bullying (or even just one or two occurrences) may distract the target and prevent them from getting their work done. Their emotional and mental energy may be absorbed in the bully’s words, making it difficult for them to concentrate. Furthermore, they may begin to believe to doubt themselves and lose motivation to work. All of these factors will result in a sharp decline or productivity.
Without confidence and motivation, it is much harder to make the important decisions that must be made for career success or to expand a business. A good employee or leader is decisive and confident. However, cyberbullies are good at destroying confidence, which will cause a person to lose faith in themselves and their decision-making skills. Therefore, the target may develop indecisiveness and the anxiety that often comes with it.
How To Handle Cyberbullying
Though we were all taught in childhood how to engage with bullies in real life, not all of us were given clear rules on how to handle cyberbullying. And since anger and vile are so common on social media, many people accept this harsh cybersphere as normal without taking action to stop it. But just allowing it to happen only worsens the problem. So here are a few tips on how to handle cyberbullying.
This is one of the most important things you can do, yet few people follow this advice. A bully will antagonize you because they want a reaction. Therefore, by engaging with their harassment, you give them exactly what they want. Not engaging with them makes you an uninteresting target, and many bullies back off when they realize they won’t have any “fun” interacting with you.
Furthermore, engaging with bullies very rarely helps the problem. You’ve probably seen many people get into heated debates over social media that have devolved into harassment or threats. These “discussions” should make it clear that engagement rarely helps. Whether positive or negative, cyberbullies rarely change their tune or behavior when their targets respond to them. Therefore, it is better not to respond at all, no matter what they tell you.
Keep All Evidence
If you are being harassed or bullied, you should always keep the evidence trail. This is because you may need to report their behavior to authorities or their employer. For example, if you work with the person, you need evidence to show your claims if you discuss the issue with HR. If you are an entrepreneur, you may want to show the proof to their employer or the authorities if the issue becomes serious enough.
Whatever the case, it is always good to take screenshots or download the evidence. Though you may not want proof of being bullied, the truth is that these screenshots will make your life easier if you need to report the person. At any point, the bully could choose to delete the conversations erasing the evidence forever. Therefore, make sure to collect the evidence as soon as possible to prevent that from happening.
Block And Report Offenders
Don’t let these people continue to affect you. Block them as soon as possible and report them to the social media platform, your/their employer, or the authorities if you are receiving threats. Don’t just shrug these conversations off as nothing. Though many cyberbullies do not go through with their threats, the truth is you don’t always know what behavior they will exhibit. Therefore, block them as soon as possible but report them to any authority you can to prevent any real-life issues.
Final Thoughts On Cyberbullying
Even in adulthood, bullying can be a major force in our lives. It can deplete our self-esteem and motivation and rob us of the mental qualities we need to succeed. However, by not engaging, keeping evidence, and blocking and reporting the bullies immediately, you are working to minimize the negative effects of bullying in your life and preventing the bully from continuing their behavior.
For more information on bullying and harassment in the digital age, check out the resources found at BetterHelp.