Ramos Salazar, L., & Khandewal, P. (2021). Compassion and empathy as transformative intervention approaches: The management of cyberbullying issues among working professionals. In L. R. S. (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Cyberbullying and Online Harassment in the Workplace (pp. 493-512). IGI Global. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4912-4.ch023
Background & Theory
This book chapter explores how workplace bullying (specifically cyberbullying) might be reduced or prevented through means of empathy, compassion, and self-compassion training, workshops, and techniques. The authors explore these concepts, available research, and discuss how these can be implemented in interventions in organizations.
Ramos Salazar and Khandewal, in “Compassion and empathy as transformative intervention approaches: The management of cyberbullying issues among working professionals” (2021), seek to address the following questions:
- How might workplace bullying/cyberbullying be reduced?
- What does research show us about the positive benefits of empathy, compassion, and self-compassion training in this regard?
The authors provide an overview of workplace bullying/cyberbullying and the various outcomes this can have on employees. They discuss what empathy, compassion, and self-compassion are, as well as what interventions exist and the supporting research for these interventions (especially within organizations). The ways these kinds of tools and workshops can be implemented into organizations is reviewed, as well as the impacts that each of these areas have on employees in a workplace. Additionally, a case study is provided to give a solid example of workplace cyberbullying and the ways that the interventions above could be used in that scenario.
Each area – compassion, empathy, and self-compassion – has a valuable role to play in organizations and can promote a healthier work environment with reduced bullying (and other negative behaviors). Compassion and empathy might help workplace employees feel less inclined to engage in such negative behavior, as well as be more willing to stop it when seeing someone else engage in it. Self-compassion can help those who have been bullied/cyberbullied to cope and maintain positive self-esteem, and/or help raise someone’s self-esteem who may bully due to insecurity or other similar reasons. There are many kinds of related interventions/trainings/workshops/etc. that might help reduce or prevent workplace bullying, and the specific situations within each organization may determine which are used. These areas should all be further studied.
What This Means
- Workplace bullying and cyberbullying are common issues within organizations. Naturally, this behavior most negatively impacts the victim, but can also create toxic working environments.
- Even in an organization without high levels of workplace bullying, there are mainly positive benefits associated with empathy, compassion, and self-compassion training/interventions, and these can help create kinder people in general and a more friendly and positive atmosphere.
- Reducing workplace bullying/cyberbullying and having an organization and organizational leaders dedicated to caring for employees’ well being is critical, especially considering that employees who are happy at the company are more likely to remain there and work better with their colleagues, leading to overall better productivity.
For consultants: Understanding empathy, compassion, and self-compassion interventions and when and how to incorporate them into an organization can greatly help reduce workplace bullying and conflict.
For everyone: Finding ways to build your own empathy, compassion, and self-compassion benefits many people around you, but it also benefits your own life. There is often no negative outcome from being kind to yourself and others.