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Last Updated:  Monday, 31 March, 2003, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
E-mail bullying on the rise
One in six workers in the UK has been bullied via e-mail, according to a new study.

Woman holding head in hands
Bullying via e-mail can be very stressful
A poll conducted by internet job site reed.co.uk showed that e-mail bullying is on the increase with those in the south west and London suffering most from cyber criticism.

Perhaps surprisingly, the higher up the office ladder people are, the more likely they are to be targeted by e-bullies.

While just 15% of secretaries claim to be the victim of such attacks, 28% of their bosses are being harassed via the inbox.

Loss of productivity

Examples of such bullying range from unfair comments sent by managers keen to avoid face-to-face confrontations to unwelcome personal remarks.

Do not write e-mails in capital letters
Put some pleasantries in your e-mail
Communicate face to face with people sitting near you
Use copy fields sparingly and appropriately
Sarcasm does not work in e-mails
Never write anything you would not like to see stored by your company
Reflect on what you have written before sending
"I was bullied by my boss who would send me insults and belittle me by e-mail," complained one female administrator from London.

"In the end, I resigned," she added.

The problem is likely to affect productivity, the report says.

Some people find such bullying so distressing they need time off work, although nearly a third confront the bully and 22% talk the problem through with friends or managers.

Avoiding face to face talks

"It seems that e-mail bullying is getting worse as economic pressures raise office temperatures across Britain," commented director of reed.co.uk Dan Ferrandino.

"The real problem lies in the medium itself," he added.

"It is just too easy to send an e-mail while tempers are running high, ignoring the effect it might have. E-mails lack the visual and sound clues built into most other methods of communication making it much more likely that people may take offence," he said.

Reed advises anyone suffering from e-mail bullying to talk to friends and colleagues about the problem as well as discussing matters face to face with the sender.

People should also keep a record of exchanges so it can be used as evidence should the problem persist.

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