I had a minor, unpleasant experience tonight, which happens from time to time. Someone doesn’t like something I say, or some interaction I am having with someone, and they decide to send me a little hate tweet about it. Very seldom do they stick around to have a real discussion with me after sending their anonymous tweet or hate missive out, which is a shame because not only would it make me personally feel better to gripe them out back (hehe… she immaturely says) it is also the least effective way to actually make a point that produces an impact or change of some type.
So here is some unsolicited advice, from one who has been on both sides of the confrontation fence. 🙂
Don’t tweet and run – unless you like acting like a coward
If you have something to say, or a gripe to air, the most respectful and effective method of getting your point across is to attempt a conversation with someone, usually in private. The process is very simple. State to the person you need to speak to them, and would they please follow you or friend you or whatever is going to enable one-to-one communication. Then state your case and give the person a chance to respond back and discuss their viewpoint with you.
Don’t act like the other person (or company representative) isn’t a human with feelings
Honestly, if you don’t respect others you cannot possibly expect them to respect your pithy opinions and slams or even hear them. You may not know all of the story – you may in fact have things totally wrong… give the person you are confronting a chance to explain their side of things, if you really want to have anything good come from the interaction at all.
Don’t say things behind a mask
If you really have something to say to someone, stand up like a man (or woman) and have the guts to attach your name and identifiers. Honestly, if you don’t, you’re nothing but a troll and deserve to be completely discounted.
Don’t assume you’re 100% right without learning more
In fact, if you can’t handle a back-and-forth discussion wherein you get what you dish out, you likely shouldn’t be confronting anyone and should just mind your own business. Seriously… you should examine whether what you are about to say is something that is any of your business or not, before going down the path of being an ass to someone or a company representative. If you believe strongly that something should be addressed, then do it and ASK for changes to be made, or explain your reasoning. Also be prepared to get the other person’s reasoning and debate it. Otherwise, just go read a book or watch TV or something – why waste time if this is not something you are prepared to go the distance with?
One of the best stories I ever heard, and unfortunately I don’t recall where I read this – I think in a Reader’s Digest perhaps, was about a man and some kids on a train. The man had several children there, all of whom were acting up and being sort of rowdy and he seemed to be in a world of his own, completely oblivious to the fact that his kids were disrupting everyone else’s enjoyment of the train ride. Finally someone just lost it and began to gripe him out… “Don’t you see your kids are bothering everyone on this train?!!” they demanded of him. Seeming to barely come out of the fog he was in, he looked at them and said “I’m sorry… their mother, my wife… just died.” Moral of this story: you don’t always know what is going on with someone else.
If you start something, hang around and finish it
One of the most impressive blog conversations I have ever seen happened on Olivier Blanchard’s blog not too long ago. He had a gripe to air about something a social media marketing company was doing, and he listed his reasons on his blog and the discussion began. Over 300 blog responses (and countless twitter conversations) later, he was STILL responding to comments respectfully, but with the force of his convictions.
There is a time and place to stand up and state your beliefs, air your gripes, point out other people’s shortcomings and seek satisfaction for a bad experience that you paid for or was foisted upon you. But you are not the only object in the universe. As you navigate the social waters and orbit the online universe, you must recognize the inherent worth in others and not just your superior self. Be kind. Be empathetic. Be fair. If you have strong convictions, be willing to explain yourself, if you want to engage in confrontations that have meaning.