According to our research, social networks are becoming increasingly hostile, with 78 per cent of users reporting rising incivility online and 2 in 5 blocking, unsubscribing or “unfriending” someone over an argument on social media.
Our study of 2,698 people suggests contentious conversations that begin online tend to spill over into real life as one in five have decreased in-person contact with someone because of something they said online. The study also indicates that people are generally less polite, and tensions often go unresolved on social media.
Social media platforms aren’t the problem, it’s how people are using them that is causing a degradation of dialogue that has the potential to destroy our most meaningful personal relationships.
And as the research indicates, younger people are four times more likely than Baby Boomers to prefer having these emotionally charged conversations over social media, so the need to learn to effectively communicate online is increasing.
Tips for holding effective Crucial Conversations on Social Media
Check your motives. Social media hasn’t only changed the way we communicate, it has modified our motives. Ask yourself, “Is my goal to get lots of ‘likes’ (or even provoke controversy)?” or “Do I want healthy dialogue?”
Replace hot words. If your goal is to make a point rather than score a point, replace “hot” words that provoke offence with words that help others understand your position. For example, replace “that is idiotic” with “I disagree for the following reasons…”
Pause to put emotions in check. Never post a comment when you’re feeling emotionally triggered. Never! If you wait four hours, you’re likely to respond differently.
Agree before you disagree. It’s fine to disagree, but don’t point out your disagreement until you acknowledge areas where you agree. Often, arguers agree on 80 per cent of the topic but create a false sense of conflict when they spend all their time arguing over the other 20 per cent.
Trust your gut. When reading a response to your post and you feel the conversation is getting too emotional for an online exchange—you’re right! Stop. Take it offline. Or better yet, face-to-face