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Harriette Cole: Someone is threatening me online, and I think I know who it is

Harriette Cole: Someone is threatening me online, and I think I know who it is

DEAR HARRIETTE: An anonymous account has been sending me strange, threatening messages, and I am beginning to suspect the identity of the sender.

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I don’t want to jump to conclusions and falsely accuse the wrong person if my suspicions turn out to be wrong. What steps can I take to investigate and potentially confront the sender without damaging any innocent relationships? How can I approach this situation delicately without causing more problems?

— Suspicious

DEAR SUSPICIOUS: Start with the service that you are using. Contact their help desk to see if they have line of sight as to who this anonymous accountholder is. They should have some kind of security department that has the ability to research these things.

If that doesn’t yield results, contact the police. Find out what division handles online threats. You should take this seriously. Someone threatening you takes this situation out of the realm of innocent pranking.

Get the help you need to identify who the offender is. If necessary, have the authorities contact the person and address the situation. If possible after that, block the sender from being able to contact you.

Don’t feel guilty for taking this seriously. People can get emboldened when they think they are anonymous. You have to stand up for yourself.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I started my business last year and faced rejection from a lot of people I approached for a partnership. This year, my business is finally taking off, and now those same people who refused to work with me earlier are eager to jump on board.

While it’s tempting to welcome them, I don’t appreciate the fact that they didn’t believe in me from the start.

Is it wise to welcome partnership with these same people now, or should I steer clear of those who couldn’t be bothered with me a year ago?

— Mind Over Matter

DEAR MIND OVER MATTER: Go back in your memory bank and recall why these people were originally naysayers. What were their specific reservations? If their concerns were valid, don’t fault them for it.

Evaluate each person individually, based on your needs. As you are growing your business, you want to partner with people who have strengths that you need to round out the roles and responsibilities of your company. Select people based on their skills, temperament, work ethic, trustworthiness and reputation. By all means, do background checks on any potential partners or employees so that you get the full story on those you will be working with. Too often, people just go on gut feelings. That is not smart in business. Do your due diligence.

That said, you can forgive people for not being willing to jump in and work on your startup right away. At the same time, you do want to be wary of anyone who bad-mouthed you or your business. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in your vision and who have substantive skills and interest that will help you round out your talent pool.

Getting a business off the ground is tough. You need every member of your team to want to be there and to be positive about the work ahead.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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