I probably don’t need to tell you that the world of social media has become a s***show as of late. So much animosity, distrust, and verbal violence (and that’s to say nothing of the world at large).
What happened to the old Facebook, filled with pregnancy announcements, cute puppy pics and hilarious fail videos?
Since the election whipped everything into a frenzy last year, I rarely go a day without someone trying to start an argument with me on FB. I usually respond in one of the following ways:
- Get super pissed that someone brought a bunch of negativity onto my post (but avoid saying anything that might offend or upset them).
- Dive into a fierce debate where I feel like a badass (but then end up feeling sort of regretful and sad afterwards).
- Remember that I’m well-trained in letting others have their own feelings and opinions and respond in kind (even if it is more challenging than ever, in today’s political and social climates).
My horse Jove (with whom I practiced equine facilitated learning where we helped clients overcome relationship issues) was incredibly adept at teaching me and our clients to relate to others mostly from the place of #3 on the above list.
Jove never treated anyone differently based on what they thought, what they believed, or what they looked like. His actions were based exclusively on their energy and what they were inviting in.
In general, horses are cooperation pros. They have to be, since they’re herd animals and rely on other horses for safety, companionship, and fun.
Jove took being a “cooperation pro” to a whole new level. If he felt that I or one of our clients was trying to force him into anything — without regard to his own perspective or dignity — he simply refused to play along. He’d either wander off or stand stock still and refuse to move at all.
But, if our client moved into a softer, more accepting position, where they invited him to join them, Jove was happy to let the past difficulty go and immediately move into a place of connection and ultimately cooperation with them.
At the end of the day, Jove’s love was boundless. He treated our clients with a kind of judgment-free respect that they carried with them out into the world. And while treating other humans in the way Jove did might not always come as naturally to us, anyone can learn how.
The basic 1-2 equation Jove used was 1) accepting them as they are (without judgment) and 2) meeting them where they were at. This combination fosters cooperation.
However, IF someone was treating Jove in a domineering way, he simply wouldn’t play. He’d walk away. And that’s the same choice you always have.
To successfully use Jove’s 1-2 equation, and in the social media world in particular, you also have to reframe the aim of your communications. All too often in FB conversations, the goal is to convince someone of something. And that’s something Jove was never ever trying to do. He was just trying to find a healthy place of connection. And, if he wasn’t able to, he’d peace out and go find some grass.
You’re unlikely to ever succeed at convincing someone that your way, thought, or belief is better than theirs. In some ways, you need to make peace with that. But what you can do is begin to foster cooperation FIRST, which has to happen for anyone to be open to seeing things in a new way. One conversation with someone on the other end of the spectrum, that follows Jove’s 1-2 equation, could leave them thinking, Wow that person didn’t act like I expected to them at all.
And that could be the crack that lets the light in.
The bottom line is this: human beings are extremely unlikely to open their hearts and minds to a shift in consciousness if they feel attacked. They simply will not go there if they believe they have to defend themselves.
Jove obviously didn’t do the social media thing, but he was miraculous at teaching us how to elicit cooperation, instead of combat. If he were going to directly advise you during your next difficult FB discussion here are the five things I think he’d ask you to do (which happen to spell the world SALAD):
Start by getting centered and grounded. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and notice the sensations in your body. If your minor tiff has blown up into a massive battle and you’re seriously considering unfriending or blocking the other person, you may even want to go for a walk with your dog. Do whatever you need to do to get some perspective… where you’re not so emotionally invested in the outcome of the interaction.
Add some lightness… Every social media interaction doesn’t have to feel SO heavy. In fact, Jove would often do something unexpectedly silly at times, when he felt like a client was getting too “in their head” about something. They’d laugh and the heaviness of their thoughts would suddenly be lifted. Ask yourself: is there any way to lighten this communication, even add some humor, without anyone feeling offended or disrespected?
Look for common ground. Is there anything the other person has said that you agree with — even just a teeny bit? If so, make that clear. It will instantly reduce the other person’s need to be defensive, and thus open the door to cooperation. It’s amazing how a small gesture in this department can go such a long way.
Acknowledge what the other person has said, that you hear them and respect their opinion. People can get stuck repeating the same thing over and over, getting angrier and angrier, if they don’t feel heard. Acknowledging their beliefs and opinions helps them start seeing you as someone who could possibly be on the same team.
Decide if the conversation is worth continuing or if it’s better to leave it for now, saying something like: “Thank you for sharing your perspective with me. I hear you and I think we even agree on a few things here. For now, let’s agree to disagree on the other pieces.”
The more SALAD you use, the better you will feel. 😉
And the more you’ll be contributing to a new social media culture where people from all walks of life can connect in cooperative, mutually beneficial, and enjoyable ways, as we collectively move beyond the biggest problems facing our world today.
Most of us don’t have the automatic habit of taking the SALAD steps that can help us get there, but with practice they can become anyone’s norm.
And I’d love to help with that! Join my private Facebook Group (The Everlasting Love Club) for support and encouragement in putting the SALAD steps to work, and for fostering more love in your life overall. See you there!