Lessons in Social Skills…

This post has been building for a while now. Social skills are an important part of everyday life. We need good social skills in order to know how to interact with people. We teach social skills to our clients.

I may be dating myself a bit but, do you know the internet is not all that old. Social networking platforms Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs), AOL, and ICQ have given way to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Social media is everywhere and it is nearly impossible to get away from it. People are posting, commenting, responding, and interacting all day long. It can be a wonderful tool!



Photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash.com

did you know there are social skills requirements for the internet?


We seem to be at a point in time where the comments online whether it is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are overwhelmingly negative and hurtful. I’ve seen posts in several groups on Facebook where ridicule, shaming, and general rudeness is occurring. The facelessness of social media has helped turn a social action into a hurtful action (disclaimer: I don’t mean all interactions nor do I mean every person).

So, as always where there’s a problem, I TRY to provide answers or at least discourse. Years ago when I was on the BBSs we talked about and how there is a social etiquette that is special for online interactions. Several years ago the idea surfaced again as “Netiquette.”

Here are a few pointers.

  1. Remember – you cannot read tone in print.  You simply can’t do it. Emoji’s are fine but they don’t really tell a story, now do they? And for those of you a certain age (you know who you are!) telling the smiley face emoji from the crying face emoji from the wry face emoji is pretty darn hard – particularly on a phone.
  2. Remember the person you are interacting with is … wait for it… HUMAN. They come complete with all the foils, pitfalls, and wonderfulness that is being human.
  3. Online, we need to treat each other the same as we would in person. If we wouldn’t sit across from each other and discuss something, perhaps we shouldn’t do it online. I sincerely doubt any of us would stand around yelling at each other calling each other names in public…let’s not do that on the group pages either.

What is on the internet never truly goes away – ever. We really have no way of knowing who is reading what we’re writing (do you have someone looking over your shoulder?). While the discussion may feel very personal (trust me, I’ve been there too), to the outsider it isn’t. The people reading the discussion comments are forming their opinions based on the limited interactions they see. Ultimately it is our own professionalism that gets called into question.

So…I have a favor to ask of all you of. Go brush up on your netiquette skills.

  • Remember not to start (or participate) in flame wars (after all there’s always at least two sides to every situation).
  • Remember the human. Let’s change the negative atmosphere that seems to be so pervasive in the world these days with some positivity and kindness.
  • Walk away. When you read something and it upsets you, walk away. Think about it first. Take away the emotionality of it… then post your response.  Remember, if you wouldn’t say it in person, it shouldn’t be said on the computer.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could read comments on a thread and be uplifted and informed? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we ended our day knowing that we lifted someone else up? Wouldn’t it be exquisite if we all acted on the internet the way we hope our clients will act in person? Let’s make this happen.

Until then…Adventure on.