This week I’ve really been enjoying listening to some great podcast episodes from other animal trainer’s shows! I especially loved a recent episode from Hannah Branigan’s – Drinking from the toilet – podcast where she spoke to John McGuigan about “Training trolls” …
They were of course talking about internet trolls not the beings from Norse Mythology lol
Wikipedia describes an internet troll as “ … a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet … in an online community … “
This episode really hit home with me because a lot of my day is spent engaging with other people on social media and although I don’t necessarily come across as many trolls as John McGuigan – I definitely do find some engagements much more challenging than others!
Consequently I thought I would compile my own list of 5 things I recommend doing to successfully engaging with other animal trainers online, especially if a post has triggered a strong emotional reaction in you and you have a different opinion – (Or you can just let the cat do it for you; hehehe) … see list below under photo;
1) Take your time to reply… you don’t need to reply straight away.
A weird thing I find about social media is that it feels really urgent! Like we need to reply to this person right now! Although in my experience when emotions run high this doesn’t put us in a very good position to respond!
I am becoming more and more aware of this nagging feeling to respond immediately, whilst at the same time am becoming better at giving my response some time.
This doesn’t mean you can’t write out a response straight away though, I often do this and then revisit it 24 hours after I have had some time away from it.
2) Respond with curiosity.
Recently I had the absolute pleasure of recording a podcast episode with Steve White! Steve actually taught me, what I think is going to be one of the biggest lessons I take away from 2018 … >>> Be curious <<<
Rather then jump in and just unload your thoughts and feelings! First seek to understand why the other person did what they did … what led to the decisions they made?
You can listen to the full episode with Steve White here (Steve talks specifically on this subject at around the 38 minute mark!) >>> http://bit.ly/ATA_Steve_White
AND watch your inbox! Steve will be joining us again LIVE in the ATA members area for a special members only web-class later this month! EEEEE! More on this soon.
3) Think about what you want from the conversation.
4 amazing questions to ask yourself before you respond;
- What is the ultimate goal you want from the conversation?
- What does the other person want from the conversation?
- What do you want for the relationship?
- What don’t you want from the conversation?
I learned about these questions in my favourite book of all time! Crucial conversations! If you haven’t heard about this book, this is a MUST read! You can learn more about it in a special ATA podcast episode we did on this topic right here… http://bit.ly/Crucial_conversations
Most of the time – everyone wants the same thing! To do what’s best for the animal! (Both you and the person you are talking to) We just have different ways of going about it.
What I see happen though – is people end up being blocked, deleted from the person’s friend list or removed from a group. At this point – our ability to be able to help is gone! Like we do with our animals there’s benefit in focusing on the relationship first!
4) Privately edit the response from the other person before you answer…
Sometimes I literally cut and paste someones comment from social media into a separate word document and before each label the person uses to describe their animal I will write “… what this person calls (insert label here).
Additionally I will do the same with opinions. Before everything the other person wrote that is just an opinion I will write “ … in this person’s opinion (insert opinion here) … ”
I will go through an entire post like this inserting those 2 things where appropriate.
I will then read the post again and reply to this modified version. This really helps me narrow down on fact and explore that curiosity of what behaviors are actually behind the labels being used and why the people have reached the opinions they have…
5) Focus on one thing at a time
This is really something new I am experimenting on! Often I find my responses can get long and I focus on a lot of different aspects of the conversation. But by doing the suggestion from number one – and taking some time away from my draft response – I can normally pick out what is most relevant and just focus on one thing in my reply.
This makes your response much smaller and I feel easier to achieve the goals you set in point 3 above with regards to what you actually want from the conversation! The jury is still out on this one though… time will tell if I repeat, modify or suppress this behavior moving forward.
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What about you? What have you found to be successful in engaging with others online? Especially when emotions run strong, stakes are high and opinions vary? Let me know by commenting below.
Animal Training Academy