On a phone call last week, my friend, Zena Weist and I were discussing incidents such as the Motrin Moms and the Nestle-Greenpeace crises that happened last year or similar circumstances when a person or a group attacks another online.
That conversation reminded me of a negative blog post a few months ago that a fairly known blogger wrote using my name in the headline with two other key words as a obvious SEO ploy to get traffic. I say that because he ignored similar situations with other folks and didn’t attempt to ask me about the event. Nor did he respond to any conversation about it.
These sorts of confrontation can evoke a passionate response.
In the fast web culture, our senses get heightened by the idea that a wide audience of people we don’t know can be reading that bad press about us. It’s only natural to want to to set the record straight.
It’s at times like those that I try to remember this saying,
The more I want to run, the better it is that I walk slowly and with thought.
Passion rarely fuels grounded thinking.
Of course, a great social media team is hired to be mature and is prepared with a plan to handle a crisis such as those I just mentioned. But a knee jerk reaction can foil even the best plans. Realize that it’s happening. Often we sense a bad conversation before it’s really gone wrong. It might be our mood or the mood of the person we’re talking to. Unconsciously we rise to the bait and respond by making things worse.
So … Breathe. Before your hands touch the keyboard to respond realize that you’ve got a few minutes to go with your best reaction, not your fastest one. Take time to think of your best options. We can’t take back a bad response, but we can reconsider our options before we act like a jerk.
- Own your part of what derailed. Apologize for your behavior not circumstances around you.
- Diffuse any personal response you’re feeling before you respond.
- See yourself on the other side of the conversation.
- Find a way to say “thank you” for the information.
- Don’t feel compelled to counter every point. Trust the people who know you to know what you stand for. Realize that some folks won’t listen anyway.
- Get curious about finding common ground — make a goal to meet somewhere you agree. Ask them what they might do in your situation.
- Live the example you respect. Choose thought-filled words that come from the heart.
- Keep the conversation limited to the person who brought it and take it offline or private as soon as possible. If
- In the case of folks who are simply inventing something to hijack your name, answer once, clearly and with grace. Then simply ignore the conversation or enlist your friends to set the situation straight.
- Know the difference between a stampede of elephants and a flea who’s just irritating.
Of course, the best response is to be solid about what you stand for, willing to listen to questions about it, and open to other’s concerns. Then when things get confrontational, you can simply point out that the behavior, not the discussion, is inappropriate.
Have you ever been blindsided by a negative blog post? How did you handle it?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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