My most profound relationships are ones where I feel I am building something with the other person. When we’re together, we help each other grow our ideas, projects, love, creativity. I’ve found it pretty hard to “fake it” with people if I’m not sensing that they care to do that. This is partly because of my personality type, that I like to do things and feel productive. But I think that all people desire to create. And if we’re not doing that in our relationships, they fall flat.
This applies to the social media sphere, too (as do most of the rules governing human interaction). Let’s make sure our posts and comments build.
I’ve noticed sometimes on Facebook and Twitter that someone will post a new idea or a link to an article, and someone else will write a comment that pretty much goes like “Yeah, that’s fine. But look at this other competing, better thing I found!” My favorite example of this is a friend who posted a bean soup recipe that she had spend a few years perfecting, only to have the first comment be a link to a different bean soup recipe. Now, it’s awesome to add links and ideas, but if the first comment is about how something else is better, it doesn’t really build upon the original thought, it dilutes it. No one is going to go home and make both bean soups for dinner, so the comment doesn’t add to the post, it takes away. I’ve also had experiences where other spiritual writers will put more energy into promoting their own content when they comment on my posts than actually interacting with what I’ve written.
Here are a few suggestions I have for how to ensure that our online communities have the best chance for valuable conversation:
1. The Ratio for Positive Feedback to Constructive Feedback: 4:1
If you’re the first to comment on a post, think about leading with your appreciation and/or agreement. Be sincere–don’t pretend to like something. But don’t underestimate the power of a little “like” or simple positive comment. I know it means a lot to me to get a few likes on an inspirational quote I write on my Facebook fan page. It says “there’s somebody out there. They’re listening, and they care”. It also shows me what is most interesting to people, so I can provide more of that.
If you have constructive feedback about a blog entry or post, think about sending it directly to the person. Most of the time it’s helpful to post it publically, either because you need to set the record straight about misrepresented facts, or argue for a different perspective. Be specific. “You suck” isn’t really going to have an effect. Gather your facts and make your case. Build upon the conversation.
2. Creation Requires Action and Response
Feel empowered that your response is just as important as the content itself. Just as actors would be jobless without an audience, so would the online community fall apart without engaged participation from people like you and me. When you respond, you help bloggers and sharers (for lack of a better word) think more, refine skills, feel inspired. Everyone needs to feel challenged to improve and be of service in new ways.
3. Practice Conversations that Build, in-person and online
You know the difference between walking away from a conversation feeling lifted up and walking away feeling like you just got slapped. Choose how you want to feel, and how you want to treat other people. Focus your instincts to say things that are creative, that give voice to thoughts you may never have entertained before. This is where true humor lies. This is where the fun is. This is the dance. All of those conversation skills will benefit us in our written word. That is so much of where society’s interaction is moving, let’s make sure we don’t let it fall into thoughtless sarcasm, obnoxious acronyms, and comments that are more confusing than sincere.
Happy New Year! I look forward to increasing my awareness and participation in my in-person and online communities with you, and I’d love you to post your response and personal experience!
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I am a coach, facilitator and program director in Denver, Colorado. I bring a high-performance mindset from 18 years leading in global corporations, startups, non-profits and Higher Ed. I’ve also honed skills in emotional intelligence and practical spirituality through training with ICF, Shadow Work®, Insights Discovery and motherhood. If you’re ready to do powerful inner work, and also get tangible results in your external environment, please follow my blog and reach out to talk about coaching!