Joseph Grenny, co-author of New York Times best-seller Crucial Conversations, conducted an online survey about hostility on social networks and ended up with some surprising results. The study included 2,698 respondents.
According to Joseph Grenny, “Social media platforms aren’t the problem, it’s how people are using them that is causing a degradation of dialogue that has potential to destroy our most meaningful personal relationships,” he said.
Insights from the study:
- About 80% of respondents believe that incivility on social media is on the rise.
- About three out of four respondents said they have witnessed an argument over social media, while 88% believe people are less polite on social networks than they are in person.
- Nearly, 50% of respondents said they have unfriend or blocked family members, friends, or coworkers as a result of online hostility; and 19% have avoided seeing others in person because of something they said online (via social networks).
- 81% said difficult or emotionally charged conversations they have held over social media remained unresolved.
- Research shows that younger people are four times more likely than Baby Boomers to try and handle a conflict over social media, but it is observed that their communication skills have gone out the browser window.
Few tips by Grenny for communicating via social media:
Check your motives. Social media hasn’t only changed the way we communicate, it has modified our motives.
Replace hot words. If your goal is to make a point rather than score a point, replace “hot” words that provoke offense with words that help others understand your position. He gives an example, replace, “That is idiotic,” with, “I disagree for the following reasons.”
Pause to put emotions in check. Grenny says never to post a comment when you’re feeling emotionally triggered.
Agree before you disagree: It’s fine to disagree, but don’t point out your disagreement until you acknowledge areas where you agree, he says. Often, arguers agree on 80% of the topic but create a false sense of conflict when they spend all of their time arguing over the other 20%.
He says to “trust your gut”. When reading a response to your post, if you feel like the conversation is getting too emotional for an online exchange, you’re right! Stop. Take and it offline.