Anne 馃悵 Thornley-Brown, MBA

4 years ago 路 2 min. reading time 路 visibility ~10 路

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"Them's Fighting Words" - How to Deal with Rude People on Social Media?

"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, for they are vexatious to the spirit. " Desiderata


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Most people come to social media in a positive frame of mind. They welcome interaction and see every opportunity for engagement as a chance to learn, build support, and create positive relationships.聽聽

If you stick around long enough, every now and then, you will come across someone who is what I call a "nasty piece of work".聽

Fortunately, you won't come across many many rude people on social media. I have been at it since 2004, longer if you count my聽Geocities days,聽and I have only come across 4.

Perhaps they say or do something and your point of view is radically different. Rather than calling them out in public, you may try to address the concern behind the scenes to avoid embarrassing them.聽聽

Other times, perhaps you have inadvertently done or said something and someone misunderstands your meaning. Instead of approaching you, they take the opportunity to call you out in public.

Has this ever happened to me? I recently started a post in a LinkedIn Group. A beBee member with whom I also interact in that LinkedIn聽Group replied, recommended someone's post highly, and shared the link. I had absolutely no issue with him sharing the link. I read it and agreed that it had value. I had done some experiments that were directly relevant to the post. I replied supporting what she had posted and shared my posts. She blew up at me, went TOTALLY ballistic, and called me out in public.

What is the best thing to do when you come across individuals like this?聽

Run, don't walk to the nearest exit. On social media, there is no way that you can respond directly without making yourself look really bad. Even if the person is dead wrong and completely out of line, no matter what you do or say, it will reflect poorly on you.聽

So, if it is your first encounter with that individual and they have blown up at you in public, it's best to delete, block, and move on. It takes seconds. If, on the other hand, you have taken exception to what someone has said, try approaching them privately. If they don't respond well or, even worse, breach netiquette and share your private message and attack you in public, delete, block, and move on.聽

If, like me, you are capable of taking care of yourself and fighting your own battles, you may think that ignoring them makes you look weak. It doesn't. Save your battles for real life and people who really matter to you.

On social media, no one gets the benefit of observing tone of voice, facial expression, or body language. Words will be taken at face value and misunderstood. Those looking on will form their own impressions and they could end up being unfavourable impressions....of you....not your attacker.聽

When someone reacts badly, remember, it's their problem, don't make it yours. Perhaps they had a bad day. Maybe they got some bad news about a family member. Some people get their kicks by pulling you into their drama. Maybe they are psychologically unstable or, heaven forbid, barking mad.

Consider their reaction to be a gift. They've shown their true colours and now you know it's best to avoid them. It's better to discover this early rather than wasting time building a relationship with a Debbie Downer, Quarrelsome Carol, or Cross Keith.

The time you spend online is precious. You can't afford to have it eaten up in encounters with people who are going to sap your energy, and leave you feeling drained rather than energized.聽At least you don't work with this person or see them in real life.

So, delete, block, and move on. There are thousands of positive individuals with whom you can interact in a positive and constructive manner. Don't waste a precious second with those who are rude, hostile, and negative.

  • How do you handle it when you have negative encounters on-line?
  • When you come across rude or hostile individuals do you ignore them or engage with them?

If you share this, please use my personal Twitter handle @athornleybrown.
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There are some situations in which one has to set boundaries. Please check out my follow up post. Blog post: Advanced Team Building Challenges: Setting Boundaries for Bullies and Other Tyrants https://corporateteambuilding.wordpress.com/2017/10/22/managing-bullies-and-tyrants Discussion: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6327932361069649920

Jerry Fletcher

4 years ago #16

Anne, god to see you in action here. I agree that the best remedy for the completely intractable is to summarily dispatch them to the untouchables pile. However, sometimes it can be amusing to watch them paint themselves into a corner and try to climb the walls to escape.

Lisa Vanderburg

4 years ago #15

#16
Amen to that, lovely Anne \ud83d\udc1d Thornley-Brown, MBA!
#15
Awesome Lisa. Thank you for stopping by. This conversation is so much richer because of Franci's share. I popped over and interacted on your post and now you are here and we are having a great time. Sharing contributions is no threat to anyone unless it involves blatant promotional pitches for products and services. I have addressed that in another article.

Lisa Vanderburg

4 years ago #13

@athornleybrown personal besting buzz....fantabulous!

Lisa Vanderburg

4 years ago #12

#3
I LOVE this buzz which is sooo much more elegant than mine! (Thanks for the share Franci\ud83d\udc1dEugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador, you have made it crystal-clear how to deal with those pesky brats, and I'm grateful not only for that, but for your humor! :) I had no trouble getting shot of inappropriate behavior on LI...maybe I need to change my jammies :)
Thank you for your support everyone. Just one small ask. I shared this as my personal opinion not my company or brand position. If you want to share it "Awesome". As requested, please share using my personal handle @athornleybrown http://www.twitter.com/athornleybrown Thank you.
#10
Sure thing. Here's the link. https://www.bebee.com/producer/@lisa-vanderburg/dilemma
#7
You are on to something Kevin. Finding the humour and entertainment value diffuses these situations and takes one out of the victim mindset.
#6
Thank you for your support Franci\ud83d\udc1dEugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador's post. Unlike the lady who went ballistic, I have absolutely no objections to people sharing links that are relevant to the conversation. I welcome them as long as they are not promotional pitches.
#7
You are oh to something Kevin Baker. It's always best to find the humour and entertainment value in these situations.
#7
Well said!
I like this post-Anne \ud83d\udc1d Thornley-Brown, MBA. My approach is I don't want to waste my time on negative encounters and I prefer to ignore them. BTW, I love the Desiderata and have a copy of it in a lovely hardback book.

Devesh 馃悵 Bhatt

4 years ago #4

#3
No. I am suggesting that if people are rude to you... as you suggested block them. If the same problem of verbal rudeness exists in the real world, rude people troubling you and you cannot block them as it is the real world.... in many cases there is no authority to seek relief in countries like India.... and you are havig trouble getting the courage and confidence in the real world learn to defend yourself on social media in an assertive manner... gain confidence and do the same in the real world.
#2
Are you suggesting that some of the people who are being rude and blowing up on social media lack confidence in the real world and use social media to practice showing more strength? If that is the case, how would you suggest dealing with them.

Devesh 馃悵 Bhatt

4 years ago #2

Social media gives one the liberty to block people with ease. Not possible in the real world If the real world poses the same problem of rude people showing dominance and one feels helpless in countering... rude people on social media are good practice. People who are oppressed, often develop a well structured answer, they just dont realise it due to a lack of confidence. Just getting into a conversation is the best way to get oneself talking. I ve seen this work for many people who are reduced to online working because offices are too darn toxic. social media interactions allowed them to open up and some people were kind enough to boost their confidence. This progress reflected well in their real world dealings.
George Anderson, you are our anger management expert. What strategies do you suggest?

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