Disagreeing

I had conversations and a memory on a theme this week that serves to make me wonder about a particular topic – that being how to disagree socially.

The comments didn’t take this form, a Saturday Night Live skit, but they might as well have.

In one conversation, we discussed how valuable having conversations online can be and the importance of seeking out an opinion or a thought that may differ from your own.  I think most people would agree that it helps focus their thinking on a particular topic.

Anita Simpson summed it up nicely.

This was in response to my comment that it is indeed possible to disagree without being disagreeable.  It’s advice that I gave to my kids as well as that when it looks like everyone else is wrong, perhaps the one that is wrong is you.  Just passing along the wisdom shared with me by my parents…

I think we all know of the adage that if you can’t say something good, just don’t say anything. 

For the most part, we do that nicely in face to face conversations.

But for some reason, going online makes it easier to shoot from the hip without concern for how the comment might be received by others.  In this case the guilty person is a higher profile social media person who took a couple of pretty mean shots at two dear friends of mine.  It was without regard for their feelings and a direct attack on the good work that they take great pride in.  It’s happened to me in the past and it hurts but I think that it hurts more when you know the people and the passion that they have for their work.  It happened to a friend a few years ago who relayed the information to me as we sat together at a presentation and it’s happened to another friend just this past couple of weeks.  There’s no excuse for it.

In my mind, it boils down to leadership and a desire to be seen as a leader on the social scene. 

Can you prove yourself to be a leader by stepping on others?  Or, does a leader work tirelessly to make others look good and, along the way, garner respect by doing so?  I’ve worked with leaders who have exhibited both of these styles.  I work hard (I think) but I sure worked a lot harder for the second type.

We live in a wonderful opportunity to be able to share, bounce ideas off friends and “friends”, and get feedback from every corner of society.  I think it’s extremely important to evaluate our use of the tools.  There is the art of gentle persuasion that returns results.  There’s the art of being a jerk that just doesn’t work.

After all, if we’re concerned about student bullying and inappropriate use of social media, how can we be experts if we’re just as guilty in our own use?

 

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