You Can’t Please Everyone: How to Handle Argumentative Comments on Social Media

If you blog for your business and occasionally write posts sharing your thoughts and opinions on particular topics, you’ll find not everyone will agree with your point of view. In fact, you might find some contrary, angry or defensive comments either directly on your blog or in social media comments. If you’re someone who likes to be liked by everyone (like I do), that can gnaw at you. Getting nods all around, however, is a wishy-washy objective for your social media efforts. Stimulating thoughtful discussion and getting readers engaged enough to share their alternate views will make you far more memorable.

But counter-points and disagreements in comments can escalate to heated arguments if you’re not careful about how you handle them. How did Aretha Franklin put it?

Ah yes, R – E – S – P – E – C – T.

Steps for responding respectfully to people who disagree with you on social media:

  1. Say “Thank you” – Immediately say “thank you” to them for sharing their thoughts and perspective.
  2. Acknowledge – Validate they have a right to share their views and that you welcome them. Express your thoughts on the topic are your thoughts…and that you respect – and are interested in – others’ perspectives.
  3. Explain – If the discussion evolves into a debate, ask them to share their reasons for why they see a topic a certain way and likewise share your reasons for your perspective. Often, you’ll find some small plot of common ground after you understand the background and experiences that have shaped your views.
  4. Agree to disagree – While your discussion online won’t likely have you directly seeing eye to eye, you’ll at least have (hopefully!) earned each other’s respect. Share that while you don’t have the same perspective, you accept and respect their alternate view.
  5. Say “Thank you” (Again!) – End the discussion on a note of thanks. Even though they haven’t been your “yes man,” they’ve taken the time and energy to engage in conversation with you. That’s what we all want from our efforts on social media, right?

By demonstrating respect for comments – even those with an argumentative tone – you can facilitate a thoughtful discussion and keep the peace.  By getting defensive and shooting off a judgmental response, you could end up in an all out online brawl. I’ve seen it happen (I’ll bet you have, too), and it isn’t pretty.

Thank. Acknowledge. Explain. Agree to disagree. And thank again.

Please note these steps are meant for reasonable people…not for those who in any way threaten you, use offensive language, or are otherwise combative. Each social network has its own policies and procedures for reporting that type of thing, so refer to that information if ever you encounter those types of interactions.

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

2 comments on “You Can’t Please Everyone: How to Handle Argumentative Comments on Social Media
  1. Demetria says:

    Disagreements will inevitably happen, and when they do, it’s good to know how to be respectful and courteous online. Thanks for these pointers.

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Demetria! Thanks for your comment…you’re so very right. The more you’re online sharing your points of view and experience, the more likely it is that someone, somewhere will disagree with you. The importance of handling those instances with grace and respect should never be underestimated.

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