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7 Best Ways To Deal With Online Bullies

7 Best Ways To Deal With Online Bullies

We live in a time where a huge part of our daily interactions with people lies online, in a virtual world where speed of communication is key, and entertainment value is significant, if not vital. The Internet has enabled us to cross time and space barriers, allowing instant access, responses to and sharing of information. Everyone is no longer mere consumers of information, but also producers.

This overall ease of instant communication, though powerful, is very often abused by people who lack good intentions–people who are careless, mindless, insensitive, unhappy with themselves, culturally unaware, bigoted, self-centered, biased, or simply mean-spirited.

How should we deal with the online bullies who leave nasty comments on our Facebook posts, our Tweets, our WordPress, our Tumblr, our YouTube videos, our Instagram photos, and wherever? How do we deal with these strangers? What about those who are our acquaintances, or “frenemies”? How do you stop the constant chain of discouraging notes and the on-and-off harassment.

Here’s the complete guide to chasing those sources of negative energy away from your online social life.

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1. Send them a private message

Confront the bullies. Tell them that you know what they are doing. Tell them that what they are doing is wrong. Don’t be afraid to communicate with them. They might even be shocked that you dare to speak up. By sending them a personal message, you make yourself appear to them as an actual person who can be hurt and feel pain, and less of virtual person whom they think might not even exist.

But do not send a hateful message of vulgarities, slurs and insults. You can’t fight hate with hate. Don’t be defensive and insecure about the whole thing. You don’t want to add on any more negative energy and make the whole matter worse. Be nice. Be the bigger person. That’s what that differentiates you from someone mean and hateful.

2. Expose them

Bullies often think that they can simply hide behind their computer screens while they go about spreading hate online. If you know who they are, you have the choice to tear off their veil of anonymity. Let them and their evil deeds come to light. Don’t let them get away for free. Let people know who they are. Warn others about them. By helping yourself, you also help others from getting hurt.

3. Own the names they gave you

Don’t let the labels the bullies put on you terrorize you. Own the ‘name’ by saying, “Hey, you can call me a xxxxx all you want but that won’t make you any better a person, or me, any worse.” The truth is, there is no point in telling the bullies to stop calling you what they call you. Because the more you dislike the ‘name’ or the ‘label,’ the more they will use it against you.

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So don’t be afraid to speak using the very terms that the bullies use on you. By not avoiding the use of those terms yourself, you show the bullies that you do not feel fear or sadness at the mere sight of those words. You own the names when you truly overcome the power they have over your happiness. Don’t let the words of the bullies make you doubt yourself, or hate yourself. Don’t let the names have power over you and your emotions.

4. Be open about it

Don’t allow yourself to be a victim silenced by fear. Don’t tell yourself that you are not affected when in reality you feel wounded and trapped. Don’t ignore the facts and what had happened. Because if you do–if you keep mum about it and act like you’re fine with everything–the bullies might really believe that you are alright, and that they are not hurting you that much. In this case, they might become even more aggressive with their taunting.

Be bold. You don’t have to be afraid if you have nothing to hide. Being a victim of online bullying is not something to be ashamed of. If you turn things around and make it something you are unafraid to be open and honest about, you will emerge as victorious. You win by being open about it.

This is how we fight bullying–by talking about it, sharing about it, and helping each other brave through it. While the bullies will always be there as bullies, every bullied person will come out of the battlefield as a stronger and wiser being.

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5. Tell your friends and family

We all need some love and support in the times of personal crisis. Just because you try to seek help and comfort in someone other than yourself doesn’t mean that you are weak–it just means that you are human. We are all social beings who need to talk to each other about our day and our feelings. It’s not healthy for anyone to keep everything in. At some point, you will have to let it out to feel better.

Nobody wants to be bullied, criticized or humiliated. It is not a nice feeling to be disliked by other people. At this point, instead of throwing yourself a pity-party and wallowing in your own self-sympathy, you should talk to your friends and family. You will be surprised by the amount of love and support you’ll get. Don’t be ashamed of yourself. And stop thinking that people will be ashamed of you.

It is necessary that you have your friends and family as your allies. Often, true friends will not only stand with their friend who is bullied, they will help to fight back as well. Let your friends and family speak up for you. This is not just your battle–it’s the battle of everyone who loves you. Friends and family are the perfect reminder that you are not alone and that you are loved.

6. Report/block them online

As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” If you need to report or block the people who are harassing you, do so right now. Reporting or blocking people online doesn’t mean that you are “afraid of them,” or that you are “unable to handle them.” That would be the same as saying, I don’t wear a seatbelt while driving because I think I can handle the roads and I’m not afraid of accidents. But accidents do happen. Even if you don’t bump into people, some might just come crashing into you. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Look through your privacy settings and make the necessary changes to better protect your private information and content. Social media sites, like Facebook or Twitter, are not responsible for your protection. You are the one responsible for your own protection.

7. Ignore them

If it’s just a single hate comment or a small thing (not regular insults and spam), you should just ignore them. Let the haters do their thing. When no response is given to them, they will simply move on to other things and other people. Don’t always see the need to correct people, because most of the time they won’t care what you say. They won’t try to understand. Your explanation means nothing to them. Don’t become mean or aggravated because of them. If you choose to fight fire with fire, the whole situation is only going to drag on longer.

Remember: Be kind and forgiving. Don’t sink to their level.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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