The Internet can be a rough place. People are ready to bombard you with strong (if not flimsy) opinions about emotionally charged topics, and anonymity plays a huge role in the cause of this.
I’m writing this in the wake to some strong opinions expressed to me over the topic of Applebees’ PR response. I agreed with Applebees on their initial response (criticizing them for some other communication errors) and this brought about some nasty comments sent my way.
Thankfully, my experience in Customer Service and Social Media has equipped me with some basic insights into how the Internet’s “groupthink” should be dealt with. Rather than hide or spew talking points, I have compiled a list of principles I go by that may be helpful for you as well:
Be as logical and polite as possible.
If you respond with civility and rational thinking, you are in a no-lose situation. Most people just back off. Others simply respond with more emotional flavor, making you look like the reasonable one.
If you don’t really know how to respond or deal with someone, let them steer the conversation with for a bit. It’s amazing how easy it is to calm a person down once you give them the talking stick.
If you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t know.” You can maybe add a little, “I honestly don’t know the answer you’re looking for, but I will look into that.” The reason this works is because it prevents you from digging yourself into an embarrassing hole.
This goes along with civility. Recognize that you have listened to their feedback and appreciate their willingness to express how they feel. Some people will not care in the slightest that you are polite, but nothing will please them anyway. Approach every person that comes your way with optimism.
Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.
Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me)