An interesting discussion on BlogTalkRadio Insider yesterday carried over into the chatroom. The topic was chatroom etiquette and the discussion was whether or a not a thick skin is a prerequisite for anyone wishing to maintain an online presence. We talked about disagreeing with others. There are ways to do it, that aren’t acceptable – calling names, for instance. There are also ways of disagreeing so that respectful conversation ensues. It was suggested that many online personalities took respectful disagreement as a personal affront, when in reality it’s nothing more than a difference of opinion.
As someone who has had an online presence for a decade now, I can say I’ve seen all types. Those who agree or disagree respectfully, those who use anonymity to give them “keyboard courage” as fuel for trolling, and those who have no idea how to debate without resorting to name calling or personal attacks. As I moved up in the blogging and social media world, my skin did indeed grow thicker.
No one deserves to have a negative online experience, especially if they’re presenting their point of view in a respectful, thoughtful and intelligent manner. Not every disagreement is an attack, however. It’s like being a duck and letting it flow off your back. Positivity breeds positivity and negativity breeds more of the same. Yes, a thick skin is necessary for an online presence, but that’s not a negative thing. It means you have the ability to remain upbeat even when presented with a situation that’s less than ideal.
Here are some rules of thumb for when others disagree:
- Consider the tone – is the other person really picking a fight or he is simply presenting another point of view?
- Consider your community – how will they feel about all the negativity? What message are you sending them when there are constant heated exchanges? Who is worth more energy, the person who disagrees or the people who come to hear or read what you have to say everyday?
- Before responding in anger take a little time - think about what was said and consider what kind of response is needed. When firing off an angry comment, sometimes it’s best to write what you want and walk away before pressing send. Coming back a few hours later may present it all in a whole other light and you’ll probably reconsider an angry retort.
- Disagreement is not a personal affront or insult – If people are a part of your community or coming to read or hear what you have to say it means they respect your opinion. By responding to their comments in a thoughtful manner, you’re offering that same respect in return.
I’d love to read your thoughts. Is a thick skin necessary for an online presence? How do you respond to someone who disagrees with your point of view?