Tips for overcoming negativity and cyberbullying.
Online bullying has become all too common in the veterinary industry. A full 20 percent of American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) members report encountering issues with cyberbullying, from vicious fake online reviews to threats of actual physical harm. “I think that as a world and as a profession, we’ve forgotten the Golden Rule,” says Eric Garcia, IT expert, digital marketer and founder of Simply Done Tech Solutions.
Garcia offers his take on managing cyberbullying and other online negativity:
Ignore comments in private forums. If someone in a closed private online group says something nasty about you, leave it alone. “Don’t engage,” says Garcia. “People in groups feel entitled to say what they want, and they’re not going to change their mind. You commenting back will add fuel to the fire and will actually work against you.” Most of the time, he adds, your clients who love you will jump in and come to your defense. When that happens, just sit and champion them silently.
Pause before responding to negative reviews. Say nothing for 24 to 72 hours to give the client a chance to cool down, recommends Garcia. Then pull the medical record, pick up the phone and try to fix it offline. If you can’t reach the client, reply to the review publicly to apologize about their experience and let them know you can’t get hold of them. “Other people will see that you’re trying to make it right,” he says. Don’t share your side of the story online, he adds, or you run the risk of being reported to your state board for violating its confidentiality clause.
Report false reviews. If a review is fake, false or in violation of Google’s or Yelp’s guidelines, flag it and request a review for removal, Garcia recommends (see box). “Sometimes you can actually get them taken down,” he says.
Use the hotline. If you ever feel you’re being cyberbullied, call AVMA’s cyberbullying hotline at (626) 531-1140. It provides immediate support and a free counseling session to start you on the road to reputation recovery. “Their hotline is a wonderful resource,” says Garcia. “It also provides a place to share your side of the story without ticking anyone off or violating confidentiality guidelines.”
Resist vet-to-vet negativity. Say “enough already” to attacking each other online, Garcia advises. “We’re already a profession that is prone to suicide, and now here we are calling each other out in negative ways on social media,” he says. If you had a bad day at work, don’t go online and complain—call a friend and vent instead, he suggests. If you’re angry about something happening in the profession, write to your state board or national governing bodies, write an article or create a series of podcasts. “I urge you—if you’re upset, do something to make a positive change,” he says.
Skip social media in the morning. Garcia’s final piece of advice: If you want to be happier, start your day without checking social media. “Otherwise we’re taking that negative energy and carrying it throughout our day,” he says. Skip it to help start your day off on the right foot.
- Log into Google My Business at google.com/business.
- In the menu, select “Reviews.”
- Find the review in question. Click the three-dot menu, then select “Flag as inappropriate.”
- Claim your business page at biz.yelp.com.
- Locate the review in the “Reviews” section of your business account.
- Click the three dots and click “Report Review.”
- Choose the reason for removal from the dropdown list. (Grounds include containing false information, threats, lewdness or hate speech, not describing a personal customer experience, and being posted by a competitor or ex-employee.)