The internet for all its huge positive impact on the world can have an unfortunate de-humanizing effect on people and interactions. Sometimes it becomes a little too easy to forget that there’s a real human being on the other end and we’re quick to do or say things that we would never do in person.
As someone who does most of my work (and a fair amount of my play!) online, it’s really important for me to take a step back. I’ve been on both sides of that equation and it’s no fun.
Here are some practical tips I take to keep all my digital interactions awesome:
Don’t Always be an Expert
When someone sends you a link that you’ve already seen, don’t mention that. Just thank them and smile! If you’re a digital marketer, you’re going to come across a lot of content that your friends and family will want to share with you.
Let them feel good about a great find and maybe you can see the content from a new angle, from the perspective of the person who sent it to you.
The “lawyer over the shoulder” trick
Any time I write something online, I imagine a lawyer is looking over my shoulder. I can still be forceful and stand my ground but I can never make a threat or write anything I wouldn’t want being read in a court of law. Nothing that could be interpreted as racist, sexist, homophobic etc.
This may cost you a few off-color jokes, but how much is that worth compared to a great digital reputation? For expert mode, I recommend “The mom over the shoulder” version.
Close the laptop. Literally close it
Are you feeling steamed up at a nasty comment someone left on a Reddit thread? Shut your laptop and take a walk. I have a few dumbbells next to my workspace for moments just like this. I close the laptop, throw on some Freddie Gibbs and sneak in a quick tricep workout. Amazing how quick the fury fades.
Having trouble with an online dispute? Take a look at the person’s other interests. Chances are they’re a decent person with lots of interesting pursuits beyond the one where the two of you are furiously disagreeing.
I got into a heated argument with someone on a comment thread recently, but took a deep breath and saw that this guy had also posted a lot about Zen Buddhism. I took a break from the argument to talk about that and our argument just sort of fizzled out.
Hope it was helpful! A reputation as a kind, a human-seeming person is all the more valuable for its digital rarity. If you have tips that work for you or feedback on mine I’d love to hear them over the comments 🙂