Social media has had a significant impact on the way we communicate in both the online and offline worlds, communication experts say. The absence of a face-to-face factor often emboldens people to speak more freely and derisively, stripping away time-honored conventions that can facilitate more civil interactions.
“Social media conditions us to use proactive and one-way behaviors like posting our own opinions, but in the process we forget that relationships only grow deeper when we ask questions, when we pause to think or when we rephrase to confirm that we’ve listened to and understood others,” says Jim Endicott, president of Distinction Communication. “That’s becoming a lost art, because people often are so anxious on social media to make their own arguments and balance the scales of opinions.”
Cultural intelligence expert David Livermore says he has yet to see someone change their perspective based upon an exchange of ideas or an argument on Facebook. While social media can be a force for good, people too often use it to entrench in their own belief systems and not consider other viewpoints, he says.
“I say pick up the phone, go to coffee and see what can be discovered together through conversation, mutual understanding and disagreement,” Livermore says.