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How to handle online conflict

flame warI manage an online community of very opinionated people. Some people are very conservative while others are very liberal. While the majority are very reasonable and deal with their disagreements very well, there is a minority of people who simply cannot handle themselves.

And so the leaders step in. 99 times out of 100, merely the fact that we’ve stepped in is enough to end a conflict. Just like in real life once you step back and breath for a second you realize that the fight is not worth it.

Then there is a tiny percentage of people who need more forceful help. They’ve gotten into a conflict online and they just can’t get out of it. Sadly, some people leave our community or are forced to leave because they simply cannot resolve conflicts.

Here are some practical tips for people who have locked horns online and can’t seem to fix it:

  1. Understand that online communication has built-in limitations and it is likely not as bad in person as it is online.
  2. Allow some time. Breath, relax, take a week or so just to relax.
  3. If you can, re-read how you’ve gotten into the conflict. Have you made the conflict worse with your responses?
  4. Change venues to talk to the person. If you’re all bent out of shape because you can’t communicate well online… it’s silly to think you can resolve anything online. It’s time to pick up the phone or visit that person in real time.
  5. Be willing to let it go. A relationship with a person is worth way more than a position or opinion.
  6. Be willing to let the person go. It’s silly to think that you’ll be friends with everyone forever.

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