A Mindset for Social Media

So, it’s the day after the lawn gets mowed which means it’s time to trim the hedge.  It’s a tedious, mindless (except for keeping fingers away from the clippers) activity and so it lets me think about things.  This afternoon’s thinking started with a comment that Noeline left “I like the way you never go for the jugular, you just gently point out another way of looking at something.

It sent me back to a prior event that happened right after the two school boards amalgamated into one district.  One of my new colleagues had watched me deal with a very upset principal.  When the principal had left, he said “You handled that in a very passively aggressive manner”.  I didn’t know how to take it – does he think I have a personality disorder or is it #6 in this list?  So, I did ask him and he explained that he meant it as a compliment because this principal was known for being constantly on attack, not stopping until he got his own way.

I started to think about how I express myself in social media.  I’ve seen so many people who plant themselves firmly in one camp, refusing to budge.   One of the things that I’ve learned is that there are so many intelligent folks who are very articulate in their opinions.  I like to learn from them and these conversations help meld my way of thinking.

Before heading out to trim the hedge, I got into a couple of discussions that were a little longer than the typical sort forth and back that you get with social media.  One took place on Twitter where someone I normally don’t see eye to eye with mysteriously started a conversation that I agreed totally with.  It was refreshing to have this conversation for a change.

The other took place on Facebook.  It started very innocently with a sharing of an article that I had read on Zite.  We actually went back and forth for quite a bit.  He was clearly wrongbut I also knew that I didn’t have a solution that was universally applicable.  Those who know me well know that I do wear my heart on my sleeve and there are things that I can be very passionate about.  This happened to be one of them.  This was equally as refreshing.

I think I summed things up well with my response to Noeline.  “I think you can disagree without being disrespectful.”  In the world of social media, everyone has an opinion.  But, I think that the key to success is having an open mind and be willing to have the discussion.  Goodness knows that I don’t have all the answers but hanging around with smart people really helps to see all angles on a particular topic.

After all, who would want to see a social media discussion that looks like this?

And, in case you’re curious, I trimmed both my side of the hedge and my neighbour’s.

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  1. Perhaps your colleague had wrong definitions for passive, aggressive, and passive aggressive floating around in his head? If he meant it as a compliment, perhaps the passive part was about being respectful in your disagreement, and the aggressive part was about being assertive. Non-violent communication is a way of talking about how to do this. I’m usually plenty assertive, and work at being respectful, but sometimes that needs more work…


  2. I think this post is deeply connected to your one the other day on ‘revolutionize’ language. It comes from the same place, this inability to be comfortable in paradox and cognitive dissonance. Success in social media absolutely requires an ever evolving mindset of empathy and reflection. Thanks for the reminder.


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