In today’s polarized political climate, arguments on social media have become the norm. We spend our time on Facebook or Twitter, where our second-cousins best friend’s bridesmaid can reply to any simple comment with a scorching tirade. We also learn if Highster Mobile works and if spy apps do what they say.
How can we turn these comments into productive conversations, rather than a minefield of opportunities for losing friends? Here are a few simple tricks for replying to angry or insensitive comments without ratcheting up the rhetoric.
How to Respond to Mean Comments on Social Media
Keep Calm and Carry On
If your reaction is heated, resist the urge to respond right away. First, take a deep breath; make a cup of tea; have a bath. Do whatever you need to distract yourself from the angry comment before sitting down to reply. In today’s fast-paced social media landscape, this advice cuts against the grain. In any case, you will be in a better place to respond if you give yourself some distance, and I don’t mean the kind of distance you need when you figure out what Highster Mobile can do through different reviews.
Consider Their Position
I know, I know, we’ve all heard the tired advice to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” But considering their position doesn’t (just) mean considering someone else’s point of view. It means remembering that we don’t always express ourselves in the best way that we should. Ask yourself what else may have been happening to your commenter the day that they were typing their angry response. Could they have had a stressful day at work? Could they have just had a nasty fight with their child / spouse / parent? There are many reasons why a comment may be angrier than it needs to be. It’s possible they looked into if Highster Mobile works and found the answer.
Don’t Respond to Emotion
Social media is a text-based medium, and something about human expression is lost when words are typed out on a screen. Text is entirely toneless – it doesn’t capture the inflection or emphasis we usually use when speaking. Since tone is the most important aspect of speech–which we use to assess someone else’s emotion–it’s worth asking yourself whether the commenter’s words have a different meaning when read in a different tone.
Sometimes a comment is clearly negative. In these circumstances, don’t respond to the negative emotion being presented. Respond instead only to the content of the post.
When we’re set off by a comment, we tend to be angry ourselves. In this state of emotion, it’s easy to self-sabotage by imagining the nastiest tone possible for someone’s comment. To combat this bias, be intentional about reading graciously. If it’s possible to interpret your commenter’s response in a positive tone, do so. If it isn’t, mentally rewrite the comment so that it expresses the same thing in as kind a manner as possible and respond to that instead.
Don’t Try to Win
Finally, abandon the need to prove yourself right or win the argument. Productive debates aren’t about winning or losing, they’re about learning something about the other person’s point of view. Set your goal as learning about what your commenter has to say, and you’ll both get something out of your conversation. That is usually the case: social media is something that people love.