There are many instances in life that require...grace. My mother is an excellent example of someone who can go through the roughest of circumstances on come out on the other side with an incredible amount of grace. I, on the other hand, have to work a little harder at it.
One of my least graceful moments occurred in high school when I went through my first break-up. Incredibly angry at the you-know-what that broke my heart, I put him on blast. I told absolutely everyone in the world just how much he had done me wrong, and started convincing my high school friends not to hang out with him. Granted, this was not a one-way graceless break-up. He had his fair share of retaliation against me, too. (In a lovely turn of events, he wrote me an email a couple of years ago apologizing for his teenage antics, admitting they were a product of strong emotions that he didn’t quite know what to do with yet.)
As I’ve grown into an adult, my graceless moments have shifted from teenage break-ups to career related issues aka social media issues. My mother is usually my first call, in which she always says, “Marji, remember to have grace in this situation. Be graceful.” Then I usually continue with “But, Mom, you don’t get how ridiculous this is”, in which she responds, “Grace, Marji, grace.” She lets me vent a little bit, but ultimately switches the focus of the conversation to what I can do to help the person that ticked me off.
I’m guessing anyone who works in the social media industry, or lives life, has encountered moments where grace is a requirement but incredibly difficult to have. Here are a few steps I take when I feel like I’m at risk for putting someone on blast:
I read a quote a couple of years ago about how when someone treats you wrong, it’s a reflection of something going on in their own life that they are struggling with, more than it is directly related to you. This concept has saved me from entering many cat fights, and from taking things too personally. Everyone out there is going through something, and it’s critical to remember this when you feel perturbed or offended. Social media is also such an easy place for people to comment on the things they are going through without thinking through how it will make the receiving party feel.
Once you have some perspective, forgive the obnoxious Tweeter or persistent Facebook complainer. Forgiving them allows you to detach and focus on more important conversations happening on your social networks. Don’t hold a grudge against them, or it will show through in your future interactions with them, and people like them. Just let it go, and understand that sh*t happens.
Often times, when someone decides to pick a fight with me, my natural reaction is to take a break from social media and disengage. While taking a break has its time, it’s important to persevere and continue with your positive conversations on social despite a few bad eggs. This will show trolls that you’re not influenced by their negativity, and you can still have productive conversations in spite of their aggressive behavior.
Sometimes misunderstandings on social media happen because people are still figuring out how to use it. Chances are there are people on social that just need your guidance. They don’t understand that the way they abuse social networks isn’t really the way of going about it. Be a shining example of how to use social media the right way, and don’t be afraid to point out what you don’t appreciate about their approach. Now, this does not give you permission to critique everyone that talks to you. This just means, if you see an area where someone might not know most people don’t use Twitter to say incredibly personal things, you might want to say something.
Admittedly, we all have moments that as hard as we try, we still end up going at someone, or saying something we wish we hadn’t. An incredibly important part of grace is owning your actions. If you just can’t keep your mouth shut, and you end up putting someone on blast, take a step back and own it. Apologize, reflect on how you can handle it differently next time and move on. Sometimes being graceful means owning your mistakes.
When you are publishing messages to thousands of people on social media, it’s important to have grace. People are much more likely to listen to what you have to say when you maintain a positive, healthy relationship with your fans and followers. We all have our moments on social where we would like nothing more than to go at someone else, but the next time it happens to you, take a deep breath and walk yourself through some of these steps. It might just save you from doing something you’ll end up regretting.
- Marji J. Sherman