People in the online world often talk about engagement as a light, fluffy, kumbaya sort of thing. But let’s face facts here. Sometimes, interactions with people are not fun. Sometimes we disagree with each other. Sometimes someone says something that really throws you for a loop. Sometimes someone disappoints you, misunderstands you, or lets you down. It’s hard online to figure out how to deal with these situations. Do you defend yourself against every perceived offense? Do you ignore every scenario where your feelings get hurt?
I’ve watched a lot of people ignore some battles and fight others online, and I’ve done the same. I have a few ideas about how you can pick your battles in the online world.
1. Is someone trying to “get a rise” out of you? Sometimes, people like cornering you into a reaction because it means they’re getting attention. Take a step back and try to perceive whether this is the case. The best thing you can do is deny that person the pleasure.
2. Is it really a battle? We’ve talked about this a ton here. Tonality is virtually impossible to read online, especially when you’re first getting to know someone. Maybe something you read as an insult is just them being funny. Make sure that there’s a battle raging before you pick a battle to fight.
3. Will fighting this battle help or hurt your community? Sometimes, battling a person can help other people in your community (for example, if someone is constantly bullying people in your circle of friends). Other times, though, battling a person can make your community look bad. Is it worth it?
4. Will fighting this battle help you solve a problem, or will it cause one? You know from observing other people that sometimes, when you engage in battle, the other person calls on reinforcements, and things can escalate fast, kind of like that fight scene in Anchorman! Do you want to run that risk? Is it important?
5. Are your beliefs, or are you as a person, being hurt? There is a line between business disagreements and personal attacks. If someone is attacking you or someone you care about, and if it seems like battling them will make them stop rather than feed the fire, that decision may come easily to you.
These are just 5 considerations that cross my mind as I choose my battles online. How do you pick your battles? Have you had to implement that strategy online? I’d love to hear from you!
This is post #37 in the Engagement Series. Visit the category page to see what we’ve been talking about so far!
Image by Katinka Haslinger. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/isah