Photo by Alex Green
It’s not uncommon to find varying opinions online, because social media has become an integral part of our lives. It’s where we connect with friends and family, share experiences, and engage in conversations that matter to us.
However, things may go south when it comes to discussing sensitive topics. Most professionals may be aware of the impact of their social media interactions, but underestimate the potential consequences of their online presence on their professional image especially on sentimental issues, and that’s where they need help to draw the line.
The Power and Peril of Social Media
Social media has transformed the way we communicate and interact with the world. It has empowered individuals to have a voice, enabling them to engage in dialogues that were once exclusive to traditional media outlets because of its powerful connection. Issues like social justice, politics, climate change, and more are now discussed openly on platforms like X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram.
While social media’s power to facilitate change is also encouraged for professional branding, it also comes with a perilous side. Online platforms are often breeding grounds for conflicts, misunderstanding, and even harassment. That’s why an understanding and practice of social media etiquette or as some may say “netiquette” is essential to foster healthy online conversations for every social user.
How To Navigate Sensitive Topics And Conversation Online
In navigating sensitive topics online, here are key principles to remember:
In the spirit of maintaining productive conversations, first note that not every issue needs to be debated in the public eye. Establish clear boundaries for the type of content you’ll engage with. Avoid getting drawn into heated debates that may negatively impact your professional image. Sometimes, it’s more effective to address concerns privately or in person away from the comments in public view. As a professional, prioritize active listening, remain calm and respectful, avoid personal attacks, and focus on having a constructive dialogue. It’s okay to lose the argument if things become heated. This approach allows for a more context-appropriate and solution-oriented discussion if it’s a personal issue.
For a brand trying to maintain a professional standpoint like most would, they normally would employ a crisis response plan in customer service. This should normally involve acknowledging the situation promptly, demonstrating empathy, and communicating transparently. While responding in a customer service voice, they can kindly request that the concerned party reach out via direct message or email to resolve their issue more efficiently and privately.
Misinformation can be a major issue on social media, leading to inappropriate exchanges. Information coming from multiple sources that aren’t reliable or cross-referenced and are without any verification or cautious use of sensational language could be highly misleading. Also, those of anonymous origins or content that aligns with personal biases can escalate issues and harm your professional credibility. Doing a factcheck aligns with your commitment to maintaining informed and constructive discussions you can defend, especially as a professional.
When choosing your words, keep in mind the potency of language. Use thoughtful, polite, and constructive language, avoiding sarcasm or ridicule. By doing so, you prioritize the use of people-first language and avoid unintentionally stigmatizing any community members. At this point, it is also important to state that if possible, maintain separate social media accounts for personal and professional use. Keep professional accounts focused on industry-related content.
Lastly, discussing sensitive topics on social media often stirs intense emotions and diverse viewpoints. When discussing sensitive issues, focus on proposing constructive solutions rather than solely highlighting problems. This can contribute to a more positive and solution-oriented conversation. Acknowledge and validate the feelings and opinions of others, even when they differ from yours or that of your professional brand. This approach highlights rationality and ensures a response that’s free from bias and resentment.
Social media provides an excellent platform for discussing sensitive topics and engaging in meaningful conversations like never before. However, this empowerment comes with the responsibility of handling these discussions with care and respect. Following social media etiquette is crucial for fostering constructive dialogues.
Author: Olaniyan Olawale Abdullahi
I’m Olaniyan Olawale Abdullahi, a passionate wordsmith, and dedicated problem solver. My journey began at Adekunle Ajasin University, where I delved into the world of Physics Education. But my true calling emerged when I realized my knack for connecting people through words.
With an unwavering interest in aiding others, I’ve channeled my skills to assist business owners in crafting captivating blog posts and articles that truly resonate with their audience. Beyond writing, I also embrace the role of a virtual assistant, helping entrepreneurs streamline their tasks and make the most of their time.
My goal is clear: to empower businesses with engaging content and efficient support. Whether it’s weaving narratives, simplifying tasks, or sparking connections, I’m here to elevate your endeavors.
Let’s embark on this collaborative journey together. Reach out to me at [email protected] and let’s explore the endless possibilities.