• Handling Anger on Social Media

    Isn’t it curious that public feuding has become acceptable such as, the recent arguments between Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Godwin over comments made about the Holocaust. Just when you thought ‘road rage’ was the angry trend to be avoided; now angry responses on numerous TV and social media sites are at an all-time high. Researchers of China’s Beijing University have recently analyzed the trajectory of emotions across a social-media site, Weibo, (a Twitter-like service); and, came up with rather surprising results in the process. It revealed that anger spreads like wildfire across social media more than joy or success.

    It’s evident that some social issues cause outrage such as, homelessness of veterans or domestic violence. Most of us agree we want justice and a solution to these problems. Consequently, many make their views known by public announcement on any social media site that think will generate action. Amazing power can be had by stating outrage or calling someone out publicly on one of these social sites.

    Let’s examine what the reader(s) of some innocent posts could have interpreted:

    • The reader(s) may not have all the facts on the subject and are not aware of the actual logical components. Hence, they respond by returning an attack, not constructive feedback.
    • The reader(s) may feel that an immense injustice is being demonstrated, consequently, they respond with indignation or fury. The feeling of powerlessness can bring on an attack of anger and the reader will vent on social media thinking that broadcasting bad press will obtain justice. Remember, the more justified you feel over an injustice, the angrier you get.
    • The reader(s) may have a cultural or faith based distinction that triggers them to a rage response. Or the reader may just feel the need to be righteous about posting their views.
    • The reader(s) may have old wounds from past events or upbringing and are still living this story. Your post can activate them to play out what happened in the past with, unfortunately, the same result they had then.
    • The reader(s) may not have their expectations fulfilled from membership in a specific group. Rather than address the group owner alone on the direction and content of public discussions, they lash out at anyone that posts anything they view as ‘unintelligent and uninformed’.

    What do you do when you receive angry responses on social media posts?

    If you think there have not been enough facts made known about the subject, you can post where fuller information can be found. Then, leave the readers to investigate it for themselves. It is not your job to convince the readers that you are right so that you ‘win’.

    • Be open enough to let others challenge your views. It is not uncommon for larger organizational or global problems to have more than one solution. Those who can’t adapt end up useless and bitter.
    • Be tolerant enough to examine another perspective. After unbiased reflection, you may change your viewpoint about the response you received in the original discussion.
    • Expect opposing responses. Don’t assume opposition is personally directed at you. You may open up communications now among members that may bring the group consciousness to a higher level.
    • Remember that your peers, and possibly your manager, will see your responses to others on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other sites. How you react to any readers’ post will reflect on your integrity, composure, and self-control. Ask yourself how you want your public personae to be viewed.
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  • Redefining Work Relationships

    Successful work relationships are the keystones for the company’s bottom line efficiency and personal fulfillment in your career. Work relationships can strengthen your promotion ability, subsequently amplifying your salary, achieving projects on time; and even, have an impact on your individual health state. Our working lives occupy one-half to, in some industries, three quarters of our lives. We all hope that our work relationships can be a close collaborative association with mutual benefits for all involved. It’s not uncommon that workplace relationships have to be redefined for the renewal of individual commitments, rules of engagement; and social contract interaction. Why does this happen?

    A factor can be corporate mergers. These fusions are not always as smooth as the management would like. Time and again, merging companies endure a severe employee exodus due to the mis-understanding of why the merger is taking place, core values clashes, veteran employees not feeling appreciated for past productivity, or the mix of cultural multiplicity. Another large scale facet is downsizing. With this type of sweeping change, the consequences can be hostile relations between the surviving work force; increased staff turnover; decreased solidarity between the newly formed teams; and increased finger pointing-otherwise known as the ‘blame game’. Another cause can be individual promotions. Someone who used to be part of a dynamic team can be elevated to a leadership role. This individual now has many in a direct reporting hierarchy, strict budgets to comply with, even the possibility of hiring freezes in place. Those they used to work with as peers are now uncomfortable in how to participate with and communicate beyond the new rank. This opens the challenges of redefining the work relationship. And last, there are always personal experiences that can change an individual’s world view such as, selling a long loved home, children leaving for college, or a chronic illness.

    It’s a natural occurrence that when any of these situations exist, relationships may need a restructuring of how we engage and converse with each other. So how do you start those remodeling conversations that still sustain free and open communication? Think about these basics prior to scheduling your discussion:

    • Be mindful of how reality is now. Recognize the energies you are investing into resentment, anger, or resignation over the current circumstances. If you can redirect the same level of energy into acceptance of actualities now, you can transform how you will respond to the next dialogues between you and the other persons in the conversation. Do not forget to include how much you ‘care’ about the next chapters of the future you are collectively forging.
    • Confirm new boundaries if personal experiences have promoted internal change for you. You could open with, “Since I have survived cancer, the car accident, or any traumatic experience, I want to explain what has changed for me in our engagement together”. You don’t have to justify yourself or tell all the details, just those that have influenced your view of the world from now on.
    • Validate others with their significance. Your conversation could start with, “With the successes we have celebrated together, or since you have helped me achieve that product launch, this has changed how I would like our future collaboration to be.” Whatever you express, it will be something to bear out their importance, talent, or skill in the accomplishment in benefits for the whole. In the end, you will be defining what greatness will be for you and them.
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  • Recognize When You are Just Accommodating

    The style of problem solving, and conflict resolution are the most important factors in determining group effectiveness. Research has shown that the predominant mode of conflict resolution that characterizes leadership and management groups is the most significant variable in determining whether or not companies are profitable.

    It is important for managers to understand the complexity of problem solving and conflict resolution. There are specific methods and techniques that managers do use and apply to be consistently effective. However, they should recognize there are other styles of conflict resolution that can be more effective, depending upon the circumstances and the makeup of the individuals involved.

    Smoothing and Avoiding

    These groups tend to be comprised of accommodating individuals who, when a problem or conflict occurs, will tend to define it in a manner that minimizes the differences between individuals. Their objective is to maintain the status quo within the group. As a whole, this method of conflict resolution is destructive because it does not address the central issues or actually resolve the sources of conflict. Consequently, these issues tend to fester within the group and will emerge later as a larger issue.

    The group norms that identify the smoothing and avoiding behavior include individuals who tend to withdraw when attacked in order to avoid conflict. Additionally, individual group members tend to keep their feelings and remarks in check so that they don’t surface. This effectively masks internal conflict and prevents the manager, as well as the group, from identifying the undercurrents that are present.

    Confronting and Problem Solving

    Confronting is a conflict resolution method that can represent the healthiest behavior. The members of this group tend to be collaborators. They will define the problem relative to the total organization’s needs versus their own. The outcomes of this group are interdependent if the total group benefits from the solution.

    The group norms that identify confronting and problem solving behavior include individuals who feel it is important to bring out and confront the differences of opinion and perspective within the group. They also feel that all solutions to conflict should be open and fair to all involved and to the organization as a whole. The group will tend to arrive at answers and solutions by reason rather than the application of personal power and authority.

    Learn to recognize when you, as the manager/leader, are just accommodating, not resolving the problem.

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  • Difference Between Telling and Requesting

    The linguistic difference between telling and requesting is that telling is used for:

    • Information, Education or Instructions, the how to
    • Take control of crises or crowds — to facilitate a greater order
    • Use rational thought to convey communication, not intuition or hunches
    • Does not elicit innovation, uses traditional didactic, one-way delivery

    Requesting is used for:

    • Inviting collaboration or the pursuit of common goals together
    • Asking to shift from one reality to what could be
    • To bring about social interaction between human beings

    Here are some specific ways to show respect without Telling:

    • Asking others “How would you feel if…” before making a decision which affects them
    • Voluntarily making changes and compromises to accommodate their feelings, desires and needs
    • Not interrupting their speech when relaying circumstances
    • Soliciting and allowing feedback. Trying to understand their beliefs, values and needs
    • Giving others the opportunity to solve their own problems without underestimating them, in particular:
      • Avoid telling others what to do
      • Avoid telling them what they ‘need’ to or ‘should’ do—no control language
      • Avoid giving them unsolicited advice, will appear as a sermon
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  • Resilience in the New Year of 2023

    To be at the center of a global crisis is to be part of an uncertain future. The change that is seen following a crisis is often a result of a collective will to evolve. Situations that seem life-altering while the experience is occurring often turn out to be mere blips in the evolution of society. Think of the Black Plague in the Middle Ages or the 1918 flu epidemic that ravaged the world. The Covid pandemic has been an accelerant of many of the trends that businesses have been experiencing in the past years such as:

    • The evolution of retail and growth in logistics and education
    • Working from home and the capacity to be a digital nomad
    • The development of online communications platforms
    • A recognition that there is a direct link between business and the environment

    The topic of mental well-being has been addressed over the past few years and has gained a greater degree of acceptance after the pandemic. Companies and families have taken a great leap forward in recognizing the importance of wellbeing, both physically and mentally. A valid question that needs to be considered is how we maintain visibility of the health of colleagues when they are away from the office workplace.

    In the drive to survive, all of us will need to reinforce our resilience. Resilience is a term that is often used to mean ‘bouncing back from a terrible event’ or ‘having strength to cope’, or ‘being determined to see things through to the end’. All these meanings imply people being mentally strong, sufficiently strong to maintain a sense of wellbeing while facing challenges. Personal resilience is ‘the capacity to coordinate actions that enable individuals, groups and communities (including controlled communities such as a workforce) to prevent, tolerate, overcome and be enhanced by adverse events and experiences. (Derek Mowbray 2010)

    As you and your colleagues think about the changes to your workload or routines, also include activities or ‘think-tanks’ that will help others to strengthen their resilience and resourcefulness.

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