Online Conflict Resolution

By On 23, Dec, 2008 |  In: Social Media Marketing |  | 1

Being an active part of social media has its moments where you sit back and say “Wow”. I recently had a similar experience last week. Browsing through FriendFeed, and follow Chris Brogan of course, I found an interesting comment of his. Posted on FriendFeed, written loud and clear “For F’s sake do people actually READ any more? Before getting slammed maybe read my goddamned post you moron (Towards about 20 people so far today and counting”. It is an old post from Chris but because I have been writing about psychology in cyberspace, I thought it was a great opportunity to write about Conflict Resolution Online.

I have had a few discussions with people about the following. Some think that communicating online is pretty much the same as communicating in person, however, they aren’t entirely correct. In my past post, I commented about the online disinhibition effect and how it can really change how we communicate online but in this post I will mainly stick with how online conflict resolution can be a handy ‘tool’ to have when things get a bit heated online.

Only one thing is for certain. When you think you are in a fight online, chances are you probably are. And even then, you yourself might be misinterpreting the conversation. Here are 14 Tips to online conflict resolution.

  • Don’t respond right away: if feeling hurt or angry it is best to respond later. Take 24 hours and sleep on it.
  • Read the post again later: your reaction depends a lot on the mood you are in at the time. Reading it later gives you a new perspective. Try reading it with different tones.
  • Discuss the situation with someone who knows you: ask them what they think. They might give you different perspectives as well as take your personality into consideration. You might here “you are over reacting”.
  • Choose whether or not you want to respond: You may be too upset to respond or it might not be worth your while. You do have a choice. Sometimes it is best to ignore.
  • Assume that people mean well, unless they have a history or pattern of aggression: everybody has bad days, feel insensitive and write emails without thinking. It doesn’t mean they didn’t have good intentions. Sometimes people are just bullies and are worth ignoring.
  • Clarify what was meant: ask them what they meant. You could ask them if you interpreted their message correctly, “When you said this.. did you mean ..” Give them the benefit of the doubt and a chance to clarify.
  • Think about what you want to accomplish by your communication: Do you want to understand the person, are you trying to convey a message etc. Consider how you are going to do that.
  • Verbalize what you want to accomplish: Tell them how you interpreted the message and that you wish to clarify things. Tell them that you want to resolve the issue in a way that both of you feel heard and understood.
  • Use ‘I’ statements when sharing your feelings or thoughts: I feel vs. you made me feel.
  • Use strictly feeling statements: describe how you felt. Sad, scared, angry, etc. Stick with simple feelings otherwise it might sound like you are accusing them.
  • Choose your words carefully and thoughtfully, particularly when you’re upset: do your best to realize the person cannot see you physically. They rely entirely on your words to interpret your meaning, intent and tone. You can still be real and honest while being selective.
  • Place yourself in the other person’s shoes: Take into consideration who will be reading this. Cater to how they will interpret the message instead of how you want it to come across.
  • Use emotions to express your tone: Emoticons aren’t used that much today, however, they can replace visual and auditory cues that can’t be seen online. A smile or a wink could make a huge different.
  • Start and end your post with positive, affirming, and validating statements: tell them that you agree with them, that you understand what they are saying (if you do), and say positive statements at the beginning of your message. This will help set a positive tone, and try and end with a positive tone too.
  • We all know how online conversations can turn ugly and heated. It’s not uncommon to be chatting with people through any social channel (friends or not friends) and get caught in a heated debate, argument, or fight. With no visual or auditory cues, such as body language, tone of voice and facial expressions, communication online can be difficult.

    A person can say one sentence 10 different ways in person, yet it is only 1 sentence in written text. So basically, anything in written form can be interpreted in a billion different ways because it all depends on how the reader interprets it. Their personality, how they grew up, and the mood they are in etc are all factors that can hinder a written message. I think having this knowledge can help everyone, business related or not!

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