[â€¦] Interesting post from Dirk about how social media can make people very, very angry.
People sometimes wish social media would go away. Itâ€™s understandable, not everyone appreciates the webâ€™s disruptive power turning their world upside down.
Iâ€™ve encountered emotional reactions in meetings often. Itâ€™s a tough situation to deal with â€“ but Iâ€™ve learned to resist the urge to rationalise, to argue and win a point. Sometimes itâ€™s about an emotional moment, and you have to let the temperature die down a littleâ€¦
It is tough, I agree, and it brings sharply to mind an experience I had recently in leading a workshop about social media and PR.
At one point in the workshop, one of the participants accused me of promoting my presence on social media channels like Twitter purely to sell my services and make money. The individual also reckoned that the only reason I was doing the workshop was because the organizer was paying me.
Although that was the first time Iâ€™ve been accused of this, the accusations didnâ€™t upset me much (you develop a thick skin in this business). What did concern me, though, was the single-minded venom in my accuserâ€™s manner.
My response was to rationalize why I blog and podcast, why I tweet and why I talk so much about social media and how I see its role in organization communication. Then I realized that all I was doing was pouring petrol on a fire: the workshop participant seemed to have a completely closed mind that would not let enter any argument to counter the one presented: that this was only about promotion and making money. The rising tension in the room was palpable.
How to defuse this? I wondered. At this point, some of the other participants chimed in to articulate their own points of view about social media, asking questions about Twitter in particular, and suddenly the tension disappeared and we were able to press on. Bacon inadvertently saved by others.
I could tell, though, that the accuser-participant was not engaged at all and certainly unconvinced of any view other than the one presented about money-making.
What this experience taught me was that, next time something like this happens, donâ€™t get into a logical discussion with an accuser: as Antony notes, this is about emotion not logic. Itâ€™s made doubly difficult if an individual exhibits a closed mind to new ideas as seemed to be the case in this experience (and ironic that this individualâ€™s organization has an official Twitter ID).
Instead, look for ways to dissolve rising tension, to help dissolve the red mist that appears in an accuserâ€™s eyes.
What tips do you have for dealing with something like this?