In our age of nearly instantaneous communication, we find ourselves paradoxically with exponentially more opportunities to make fools of ourselves. With every Tweet, Facebook update, Instagram comment, bulk email, accidental “reply to: all,” blog post (and blog comment), we have countless opportunities to stick our feet squarely in our mouths.
What’s even more daunting is how the lack of face-to-face communication makes it easier to be outright negative. How many times have you come across blog and Facebook comments that no one in their right mind would say to someone in person?
Character and integrity matter as much as they always have, especially in the professional world of real estate. I try to keep this in mind as I interact online, and perhaps some tips I use as guidelines for civil, friendly discourse online can help you, too.
- Ignore spam; delete and move on. Most of the time, it’s not even a human that has spammed your mailbox or blog… it’s a program, or “robot” and your effort in responding is a waste. (Like shouting into a dial tone!)
- Do not feel compelled to respond to all negative comments. Let them hang in the air or delete them if you can’t stomach it. But don’t feel every negative comment is an occasion to speak. Remember: Engaging trolls also legitimizes them. Do you want that?
- Do not engage in point-by-point arguments. They sap your energy and produce nothing. People aren’t interested in seeing you “dismantle” someone’s opinion online. These debates quickly turn into personal attacks that can get ugly.
- Acknowledge differences without creating enemies. Ask yourself: How would I respond in an office meeting? An open house? Find a way to acknowledge your difference in opinion without making a fight about it. Do you have to be “offended” by a difference of opinion? Of course not.
Staying above the storm is a mark of integrity. It shows you know how to keep a cool head and it also gives you more authority when you do weigh in on an issue.
I read somewhere that the Eagle is the only bird that, in order to avoid the rain, starts flying above the cloud. It’s too easy to get caught in the storm online. Choose instead to fly high!