Social Media and Emotional IQ
I've been working on my Emotional IQ, and it's hard work, people! Here’s my thoughts and experience. Please chime in with your comments.
I follow some folks on social media who I keep on a “never miss their posts” list because they are well spoken and challenge me to be a better communicator. There are some posters here on AN who always add value, wisdom, and good thoughts to the discussion and I love to read their posts and learn from them.
It’s also not unheard of to witness cat fights among nurses on social media, which makes a lot of us cringe. Plenty of people are watching to see how we nurses conduct ourselves. In social media, we really are on a stage with millions of viewers in the audience.
Some of those viewers are impressionable students who are looking at us, the professionals...to see if we truly are professional. To see if we walk the walk and talk the talk.
Here’s some guidelines I follow for social media behavior.
Use Other Words
Moms tell their little ones “Use your words!” and it actually applies pretty well to us grown ups as well. It’s mental work to come up with and use more descriptive words. I challenge myself to collect more words, and build up my vocabulary.
Instead of “that’s awesome” I try to say exactly how it was awesome. Maybe it was inspiring, or thought-provoking, or clever.
Likewise, instead of “it was a crappy shift” or “my supervisor was awful” I’d say “my supervisor was insensitive (or arrogant, or demeaning)” and “the admissions were non-stop and I had 2 RRTs”.
It generally takes longer to clearly articulate my thoughts and feelings than it does to be knee-jerk sarcastic or to indulge in a put-down.
For example, instead of saying"you idiot" on social media, try to stop and think "What do I really mean? What am I feeling?"
Maybe you think the person doesn't know what they're talking about, doesn’t represent the facts correctly, or is wrong. Instead you could ask,
"Interesting, can you share your sources?" or “Can you help me understand your rationale?” or “That’s interesting, can you explain that a little more?”
Use I Statements
Avoid provoking others to anger or defensiveness. Try using “I” instead of “You” statements. Instead of saying “You aren’t making any sense” say “I’m having a hard time following you from point A to Point B.”
Agree to Disagree
If you don’t agree, say you disagree, but avoid name calling or put-downs.
If you are feeling angry, just take a deep breath and wait before you hit “send”. Maybe even Walk Away from the Keyboard until you cool off. Nothing on social media is an emergency that demands an immediate response.
Take the time to prepare and express your point of view in a well thought-out and respectful adult manner.
Acknowledge Others' Feelings
When someone else is venting you can acknowledge the frustrated or hurt part of them without dismissing them altogether or responding in kind. "That must be frustrating for you." They are probably communicating in the best way they know how, which, even if inappropriate, doesn't mean their feelings are not valid.
It’s easy to depersonalize the person on the other end of text on your screen. But they are real, and they have family, friends, and feelings...just like you.
You never how unkind and judgmental words will affect another person. They may be timid to venture onto social media again. Maybe the person is not a nurse, and now they think “Wow, that ‘eat your young’ thing must be true!”
Respond to what they feel as best you can without, trying always to build each other up, and not to tear each other down.
Beware the Temptations of Anonymity
In social media, it's tempting to shoot from the hip, especially when writing behind an anonymous handle. Anonymity lets you sink quickly to your lowest self. It reminds me of my little brother, Robin. Whenever he got in trouble as a small boy, he would deny it and say "Bad Randy did it." He thought we wouldn’t find out- just like anonymous people think their online persona is not discoverable. It may be.
Write as if you are not anonymous to hold yourself accountable, or write as if your mother or grandmother is going to read your words.
Your thoughts? And I know you'll tell me nicely if you disagree lol
Nurse BethLast edit by Joe V on Oct 20, '17
About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN
Nurse Beth Follow me at http://nursecode.com
Nurse Beth has '20+' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho'. From 'Bakersfield, CA'; Joined Mar '07; Posts: 1,132; Likes: 3,392.Sep 6, '16Excellent and interesting info....often what I think is what I type and it doesn't always come out the way I intended. This is a common issue with social media!
Thanks for sharing...Sep 6, '16Thanks, Beth for this wonderful article about a great topic.
Yes....many of us have a problem with posting things which bypass our brains. It is especially much more tempting to do while posting anonymously on the web.
What percentage of these people who seem to have a disconnect with their emotions and intellect while posting anonymously on social media are like this in real-life??? I know I have worked with some.Sep 6, '16I love this article. I think that something along this objective should even be implemented in regular in-services, maybe for new hires or semi annually for all staff. It seems like just about anyone, any age, any professional level, etc., could slip up and get drawn into that very unappealing behavior.
It is VERY important for us to display our emotional intelligence on social media. Like you mentioned, we are displaying to the masses. Just as we want to display our competence and maturity in real life to our superiors, peers and families, we also need to portray it as we stand behind the safety veil of the Internet... no matter how anonymous we might be. It still causes a general picture of nurses (or anyone who partakes in this sort of 2nd personality type behavior) that is not so flattering. There are people I know, not nurses, that I've lost respect for after seeing them make complete jerks of themselves on social media. The funny thing is they are otherwise rational or respectable people up until this point. What is it about anonymity that flips this crazy switch in us? It's so silly really... but no one is above ever making a mistake. I'm sure I've conveyed some less than intelligent criticisms over social media. It is it just an important thing to keep in mind though.
We as nurses want to be revered as respectable, able, intelligent, mature and articulate professionals and individuals right?
Not saying that we can't have fun and be super silly when appropriate though!!
The point I like to take from this is, in places such as AN, where a congregation of past/present/future nurses come together in one place, the objective should not be to stir up controversy, but to feed off each others best attributes and grow as a unit. After all... we're all in this together right?!?!Sep 6, '16Also forgot to say how helpful it was that you gave tips on how to conduct ourselves, like the "use I instead of you" point.Sep 6, '16"In social media, it's tempting to shoot from the hip, especially when writing behind an anonymous handle."
Which is why I have a personal rule of not sitting at the computer and logging into allnurses when I know I'm in a less than desirable mood.
Once you submit that comment, it's out there.Sep 6, '16Words are treasures that we sometimes spend much too freely. Used carefully, they bring freedom, peace, contentment. Used carelessly, they can cause terrible destruction. Thank you for your article and the reminder to us all--what we say and how we say it, matters!Sep 7, '16I agree with you, I especially feel bad for new Nurses as some of the replies from seasoned nurses feel harsh and judgemental to me, I feel there is a way to empathise and also get your point across without appearing rigid and uncaring, unfortunatly many nurses experience that at their workplaces I dont feel we have to give them more of that on social media, words to live by "Be Kind" it's really not hard.Sep 7, '16To MY mind it boils down to being a professional in all aspects of your life. Not blaming others, not calling names, taking minor disagreements and making them life threatening confrontations. What you do in print can come back to haunt you. Regardless of how angry one may get, it is my thought that you hang on to your professionalism and dignity best by not slinging remarks back and forth. I recognize that many folks feel that if you do not respond in kind you are felt to be weak. Well so what. If you can hold your head up and not seem a jerk then good for you. Early in my career I did not follow that advice and regretted it. Yes a patient had been sorely and dangerously neglected while another nurse flirted with residents but when I said something in the wrong manner it hurt me more than her. I left that unit because the head RN did nothing to help the situation and it got worse not better. I was so frustrated I could not stand it. That was pre-social media. Imagine if it happened now. I never, ever did that again, I write it down for myself and give it to the supervisor and let them deal with it. If they don't deal with it I go up to the next rung. Also, best to leave work stuff at work. Never, ever broadcast about patient care, co-workers or unit relationships. If you do crazy stuff on off time, best to leave that alone and off social networks too. BONs and work leadership can get wind of stuff and it can hurt you especially if it smacks of something off color or illegal. It's called ethics and professionalism. Need to hold one's self to it.Sep 12, '16Thank you, Nurse Beth! That is extremely good advice, not just for us here on this forum but for all who use any of the social media. It is so disheartening to read some of the nasty sounding responses and subsequent "spats" resulting from just one or two thoughtless remarks. We all want to be viewed as professional, so we need to behave in a professional manner. As you said, once y hit that send button it is out there forever and words, whether written or spoken can cut very deeply.
Thank you again for this very sensible and wise post!
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