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How to Handle Online Confrontation Without Coming Across as Dim



No one likes confrontations. It sucks. And chances are you want to avoid it at any cost. Unfortunately, no matter how much you try to avoid it, you are bound to deal with it. You will come across a difficult friend, family member, colleague, a client/customer or a grumpy boss, no matter how nice or peaceable you are. And while the word “confrontation” tends to connote some form of physical altercation, the internet and social media has made virtual confrontation even more rampant.

It is hard to skate by online these days without meeting some confrontation, even when you are keeping to yourself. You can just open an account on Twitter and put up a status that says: “It’s a good day” and you find someone responding with a disparaging comment like: “Why won’t the day be good when you keep cheating your clients.” Or you could share an opinion, a positive opinion, about a hot topic online and you will find someone dragging you on it, despite the fact that your comment is on the positive.

Having a presence online can be a beautiful form of artistic expression, but with it comes the kind of sharing that opens you up to other people’s opinions . People want to share their opinions; from the passionately misinformed, the casually profane, schoolchildren taking the piss, to the oversabi ones who believe they know all the rules of English grammar, as well as the history of the world. And even more stressful part is the pressure to handle these online confrontations in a calm and intelligent manner so that you do not come across as stupid or even deranged.

The good news is, there’s a lot of smart ways to go about tackling online confrontations and harassment. Whether you are dealing with a trolling or online abuse, there are intelligent effective ways to tackle the confrontation, minimize the impact it has on you, steer it towards a positive outcome, and keep your online reputation intact.

Rather than delete the awful comment, you can just choose to ignore them. Think about it, what do you really gain by responding? Silence is the best answer for a fool, or so they say…especially if you don’t have a good answer. And ignoring may present you as the strong and silent type. Most times, people confront you online just to seek attention by refusing to pay that attention to them, you deprive them of their life force. They will just have to go elsewhere to get the attention they crave. Granted, this isn’t always the best option, but in certain, sensitive cases, it’s the only way to go. Most times, the people confronting you are not ready for an open-minded discourse of a complicated issue. They do not understand what logic is, and engaging them would mean setting yourself up for failure/madness. Best thing is to just ignore them and if you must, marvel silently over it all.

Take your time
While you might be affected by the comment and feel the need to swiftly defend yourself, your comment or even your brand. Do not do it. Don’t try to fight fire with fire. Take your time and develop a response. Do not think the nonsense that the longer a comment sits without a response, the more damage it can cause. Stifle the urge to outwit the person hurling insults at you and analyse the situation first, then address the person directly in a kind, objective and personal way. Being defensive or angry brings you and your brand down to the abuser’s level and will likely prompt them to keep at it until they have gotten you to embarrass yourself. Be the bigger person and let the situation fizzle out without you necessarily retaliating.

Don’t delete the posts
You must remember that the online environment is relatively new and because of that the best approach isn’t always obvious. Your first instinct when you find a terrible comment on your page online, or when someone gives terrible feedback on your opinion online is to delete. That should solve the problem. No? Deleting such posts however can result in an escalation of matter and make you look sketchy. Someone may have already taken a screenshot, or those who are observing may have witnessed your initial opinion and the following comment…and this may cause you to lose credibility as a person or brand.

Respond with facts
This is the best way to go when you are sure you have a sold respond to deflate the confronter’s argument or comment. Responding shows that you are unlikely to be ruffled by the confrontation and this will dissuade the confronter from bothering you in the future. Calmly and clearly reply and correct the misinformation being suggested by the confronter, that way you nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand and spreads more than it should. You want to act fast if you have a solid and factual response, so that your counter information is also there before the internet latches onto it for jokes, visual gags, and memes galore. If you are in the wrong however, or you actually made a mistake, admit that you messed up and correct it. Let the person know what you did and explain why. And if/when you do respond, use a respectful and even playful tone.

Diffuse the situation with humour
You have to be certain that you are witty to be able to pull this off, because while this strategy might sound easy, it can be rather though when it comes to execution. Responding to a negative comment of confrontation with humour is a way to make light of a situation, thereby stripping it of its power. Also, you are able to flip the game on them, keep the mood light and friendly. You have to make sure you are using snappy quips that are clever and not mean. People appreciate clever, whereas mean is likely to result in more nasty messages.

So, how do you handle negative comments or complaints? Have you ever had to deal with a confrontation on your social networks? Tell us.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

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