A few weeks ago, I found a post on Snarketing 2.0 where Ron focused on a post I wrote, and disagreed with several points I raised. What I really appreciated about Ron’s post (and comments) was that he focused on the IDEAS he disagreed with, and wasn’t disagreeing with ME. Too often in this space, it seems disagreements stem not because someone disagrees with someone else’s ideas, but rather that they disagree with the person presenting the ideas.
Ike found the post and tweeted the above. Several people either RTed Ike, or chimed in that the back and forth between Ron and I was a great example of disagreeing in the comments of a blog. That troubled me a bit, because how Ron and I handled our disagreement in the comments (focused on points vs people) is how EVERYONE should handle disagreements online.
And before anyone thinks I am trying to prop myself up as being the master when it comes to handling disagreements, I have plenty of experience causing and participating in trainwrecks online.
Unfortunately, it seems that too often the disagreements we encounter, at least in the ‘social media circles’ seem to be focused on the people versus the ideas. And it seems that we have far too much agreeing. It’s almost like we’ve forgotten how to constructively disagree with each other. Here’s the basic rules for debate that I try to follow online:
1 – Be respectful to the other person’s opinion and understand that they have a unique perspective that shapes their opinions.
2 – Disgree with the idea, but NOT the person expressing the idea.
3 – When I disagree with someone’s ideas, I try to explain WHY I disagree. Saying ‘Your idea is wrong’ helps no one. Learn to say ‘Here’s why I think your idea is wrong..’
4 – Know when to walk away. I honestly struggle with this one a lot, but when our ideas are challenged, it’s far too easy to dig in and keep charging ahead. It’s best to know which battles are worth fighting, and when it’s best to wave the ‘agree to disagree’ flag, and move on.
But again, I think as a whole, this social media marketing/branding space has far too little disagreement and challenging of ideas. And the disagreements we do see are often centered on the person versus the ideas. Folks, we learn via disagreeing. When someone says ‘I’m not sure I agree with that, Mack, how about this?’, it not only gives me a new perspective to consider, but it challenges me to re-examine my own ideas. So I benefit from having my ideas challenged, and we all do. My fear is that a lot of potential disagreements are stifled because the person that disagrees decides not to air their disagreement because its with someone that has a larger following or readership than they do. I am afraid they believe that the person with the larger following must know what they are talking about, else why would they have more Twitter followers?
Just remember, there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing, just try not to be disagreeable