The online world has become a mirror of what we are as a society. While there are many sweet moments, such as watching YouTube videos of babies playing with puppies or funny comedy specials from the past, plenty of chaotic videos go in the opposite direction. Especially as it relates to communicating a message, many people, from civilians to celebrities, say something publicly or tweet a statement, and then all hell breaks loose. Due to the aftermath of such statements, depending on the individuals involved, they either have been fired from their jobs, dropped by advertisers or simply removed from the internet all together.
Celebrities who make controversial comments tend to face the most significant backlash for their statements. Based on their usual apology after their initial announcement, it seems that most, at the very least, do not give enough thought to precisely what they wanted to say before they said it. If the celebrities had given more thought, maybe they would have said it differently or, better yet, kept it to themselves. This is something we all can learn from as far as trying to communicate a message online, be very clear about what you’re trying to say, or do not mention it all.
One’s ability to communicate depends on different factors (genetics, culture, a family of origins views, etc), but no matter our capacity or viewpoints, we all can develop strategies to attempt to avoid catastrophic mistakes.
The first move is to understand that we are all limited by our perspectives. Nobody else has lived our lives but us. Our experiences and memories are unique to us, and no one else felt precisely what we felt in those moments. Siblings can grow up in the same home but have very different experiences based on birth order, gender, etc. Just because someone belongs to the same group as you does not mean they know who you are. In that regard, we all are mysteries to one another to a certain degree.
Accepting that fact means that all of our experiences and memories affect how we perceive reality. As human beings, our ability to know when our experiences/memories are impacting our thoughts are currently insufficient. For example, if you had a bad experience with a dog in your childhood, for some individuals, that can lead to a lifelong fear of dogs.
People with traumatic dog experiences can react with fear even when encountering a 7-pound chihuahua. We can scoff at imagining that scenario, but we all have our version of the 7-pound chihuahua story from our past.
After we have come to the understanding that we all have our biases, the second step before we try to communicate something is to reflect on what it is were trying to say. Before you hit send, save the comment and take a break. Please take a deep breath, go for a jog, and then return to it later. Give yourself time to process what it is you are trying to communicate. Ask yourself, “is this truly what I mean to say?” Or “How does it feel when I hear myself saying the words or when I read them aloud?”
If you still are okay with your statement, then the final step could include having a trusted friend or a professional, if possible, operate as a sounding board and ask them for feedback on your words. What message do they receive from your words? Is there some confusion on what precisely you are trying to say? It’s better to address something early rather than later after it is more difficult to contain.
The ability to communicate is one of the essential areas of life. It is challenging to live a quality life alone. Therefore, we all need one another in some aspect. If we want to survive, then we all need to seek to come to a common understanding. Knowing our biases and then seeking to communicate our standpoints gives us the best chances of developing the relationships we need to live a quality existence. As we see from popular culture, sometimes saying the first thing that comes to your mind leads to severe consequences that you may not bounce back from quickly.
Vertis Williams is a Positive Habits Life Coach and a Mindfulness Trainer. He is a regular presenter at employee and team-development events. Contact him to request more info on his Workshops or on his Coaching Services! Click HERE to Request a Complimentary Habit Coaching Session!