Communicating online has vastly become a norm in the wake of the pandemic but there are some profound differences in comparison to face to face communication and misunderstandings are more likely to happen. We are not always aware of such things and people can feel safer saying things online that they might not necessarily say to someones face (online disinhibition) as they can remain invisible . So I invite you to read through the following guidelines that are aimed at making online communications with others a more mindful and positive experience.
Remember you are still talking to a person – It is easy to forget we are talking to a person when we don’t have the person in front of us. With the absence of nonverbal cues, which we heavily rely on in face to face interactions, miscommunication can easily happen and be upsetting to the person at the other end. A good point of reference is to ask yourself if you would say this to the persons face?
Press the pause button – This is great advice for us all as we can sometimes sacrifice rationale and conscious thought for speed. If you think there are unconscious processes going on during an interaction it may help to think about the response you are immediately drawn to write. Instead push the pause button for moment, take a few breaths or get up and walk around and then choose the response that is going to be the most helpful to the communication. That pause can be helpful for both private and business interactions as it just gives you a little space for focus and consideration of your intentions.
Rudeness is contagious – Being rude online by shouting an opinion or putting down someone else’s is very likely to start what is known as a ‘Flame War’ as people become disinhibited and thus subconscious defence mechanisms trigger. Worse still someone gets hurt. Your voice matters as much as the next persons however you are much more likely to be heard if you are able to deliver this is a non-inflammatory way. This has a positive benefit of showing others that their voice matters too and remember it’s ok for us all to agree and disagree, it enriches that sense of connectedness.
Consequences of rudeness – I feel it is important to remember that public platforms have many people looking in and there is the danger of someone being shamed by an individual or collective. Shame is an excruciatingly painful emotion and can significantly affect an individual’s mental health. There are always people that watch from the sidelines as they are too worried about making themselves visible for this reason. It’s useful to consider what we are writing and where before doing so to avoid writing something in the heat of the moment that we later regret that can then touch on our own feelings of shame. If we are not sure we can hit the pause button to give ourselves some space and focus.
Compassion goes a long way! – Remember you are a human too and with the best will in the world we all make mistakes. Mistakes online can feel much bigger, but if we are forgiving and compassionate with ourselves and others then it is more likely to foster a sense of inclusion and community.