In recent years, I’ve noticed a growing sensitivity to negative messaging on television and social media. Approximately 10 years ago, I took a stand by canceling my cable television subscription and parting ways with the TV my ex-boyfriend gave me. Rediscovering the joy of books, I’ve maintained a balance by primarily using social media to connect with loved ones and build meaningful relationships with new contacts. However, the prevalence of divisive content remains undeniable.
As I scroll through my social media feeds, I encounter a mix of positive messages from the United Nations, fellow conflict resolution professionals, and valuable entrepreneur resources. Yet, nestled among them are inflammatory comments and images created with new technology, as well as unsolicited advice on solving the world’s problems and who is to blame for them. From heated debates over the crisis in Israel by people who have never lived there to the eternally unproductive blame game, I am reminded that the challenges I discussed in an article for Medium several years ago have only increased in intensity.
Make the Seven Choices
Now, more than ever, we need to reclaim our power over social media and interactions with other people. Two of the Seven Choices from my book, DIY Conflict Resolution often prove helpful when people find themselves drawn into a conflict:
- Forgive the world for having conflicts
- Clear your mind
How to Clear Your Mind of Conflicts
Although they can be hurtful, online conflicts rarely pose a physical threat. Engaging in angry debates on social media rarely benefits anyone, so I consciously choose to send love and move on. Frequently, I also employ the ancient Hawaiian Ho’oponopono Prayer:
I love you.
Please forgive me.
What to Do When a Response Is Needed
There are instances, where a response is necessary. Negative reviews on your business page or misunderstandings with loved ones demand a different set of choices:
- Free the emotions
- Assume you know nothing about anything
- Listen with your third ear
How we respond to conflict can change everything. Not always, but often.
You Don’t Have to Agree with Someone to Listen to Them
We must resist the temptation to avoid angry individuals, recognizing that understanding their perspective is crucial to resolution. Yet listening with compassion and empathy is a skill that requires practice and patience, especially online. Most of us aren’t taught to listen in this way.
- We often toss the emotional components aside as less useful or irrelevant, not recognizing those components are what drive every conflict.
- We try to avoid people when they are angry because we fear them–or who we become when dealing with them.
- We listen for necessary information to defend ourselves or that we can act on.
Reflecting on a conversation with my sister, where I resisted the urge to defend myself, I realized the purpose was to love and connect. Defending my lifestyle wouldn’t have achieved this, and it’s a lesson I carry forward. You don’t have to respond to every comment. Focus on what you want in the moment from this relationship. If it’s nothing, consider saying nothing.