Like most relationships, online relationships encounter conflict. Online disagreements can arise as a result of misunderstandings or differences of opinion. Sometimes we have separate goals from our friends. Other times, conflict is instigated by someone who is trying to get attention or create controversy.
When an online conversation heats up or an online acquaintance disappoints us, it’s important to take time, just as we would in any offline situation, to consider how we are going to react to the situation at hand.
Our first response should be to ask questions, consider the context of the conversation, and ensure we have the whole story. If we think we have been misunderstood, we should consider how we can more clearly share our message before the confusion turns into a bigger problem.
Do you ask questions before responding if you think you have misunderstood something in online conversation? Do you take extra time to clarify your message when you might be misunderstood?
Once we have an understanding of what the post or Tweet means, we should consider if we are being as empathetic to this person’s point of view or statement as we would be if we were talking with them offline. Before we respond to the message, we should take note of our emotional state. If you’re still angry, it might be good to take a break to cool off by closing the web browser or application, stepping away from the computer or putting down the smart phone.
How do you cool down emotionally before hitting send?
It is important to anticipate the outcomes of our selected actions before we take them. Though this can be difficult to do given online conversations and etiquette, it is important to ask ourselves some questions and be thoughtful about how our planned actions or comments will turn out. Who can see our response? Will their involvement help or hurt the situation? If we ignore this, will the matter fizzle out and be forgotten? What will happen if we draw more attention to the issue?
Has a decision to not respond ever served you well? Would the resulting conflict be worth getting your point across?