Opinions are like… belly buttons. Everybody has one. But just because we do does not mean we need, or should, be gushing them all over social media. Social media presents a unique medium to share our thoughts and ideas. However, unlike in-person conversations, social media discussions are text based.
Having meaning conversations in the text-based worlds of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms is extremely limiting. Voice inflection is lost among each written word while facial gestures and body language are non-existent. Nonverbal clues offer our listeners insight into the weight of the opinions we share. Without them, we are left with capital letters, bold type, and cartoonish emojis.
Luckily, with the right attitude and approach, constructive conversations can happen on social media. Follow these quick tips and to keep the discussion going without jeopardizing your virtual friendships.
When about to express an opinion, announce that it is about to be stated. A simple phrase like “In my opinion” or “I personally believe” are great ways to put your listener at ease. It is when we state opinions as fact, audiences quickly disengage instead of opening themselves up to our thoughts.
Share your gratitude when your audience shares their opinion and thoughts. This tells them they are being heard. Additionally, thank those who are engaging with you for listening to your opinions. Let listeners know you appreciate them lending you their ear (or screen time in the case of social media) and that their time matters to you.
At the end of the day, friendships and relationships matter most. Hardly is there a topic that should come between friends or family. When conversations reach an impasse, take a step back and reassure everyone your friendship means more than any differences you might have. Holding onto opinions too tightly will eventually stifle even the strongest relationships.