Think Feel ACT…"Write your own story"

How to give feedback with cyberkindness

If you Google “cyberkindness” – one of previous my blogs on cyberkindness comes up fourth on the list – I’m kinda excited about that. Fourth on a Google search ain’t bad.

But the thing is there are only about 1.2 million results – which in the Google scheme of things is terrifyingly small.

Perhaps the terms cyberkindness is still niche and new – and hasn’t caught on yet. But I’m convinced the concept is real. I’m convinced talking more about and highlighting examples will help us feel the interactions we have in cyberspace are just as real and need just as much care as in real life.

So how do you do cyberkindness?

This morning on one of the Facebook groups I belong to a member started a confronting yet needed thread about giving feedback in groups and forums. Sadly these at times become negative and hurtful and he called for more respect and tact. He wrote:

Perhaps be a little more considerate and tactful with others.

A couple of weeks ago a person wrote a post here with a link to their site. Every comment was negative and even derogatory. My own comments were meant to be balanced and helpful, but in the midst of such negative comments I was concerned my comments would also be taken as negative. All the comments were very harsh and most were from regulars here.

In the end the person deleted the post and dropped out of the group.

I decided to call the person and apologise in case my actions had caused offence. We had a good chat. She is a good person with a relatively new business.

This group can sometimes be quite hurtful. There will be those who say “if you can’t stand the heat stay out the kitchen.” But perhaps think how would you like others to treat you and your family, and show the same respect for others. None of us are perfect and we can all do better, including myself. Perhaps think about your wording a little more before you hit the enter key, particularly if your comment is negative. It may be valid, but there may be a better way of saying something that creates a positive change in a person’s life.

This struck me as very wise and a very caring thing to do for a stranger.

I’ve written before about being sensitive to the presence of Facebook distress and checking out that people are OK. But this adds a whole new dimension to the concept of cyberkindness – and that is mitigating the distress others have caused. It is the same as standing up to others when they have been bullied – and comforting them. I find this humbling and inspiring.

How to give feedback with cyberkindness

The other issue of course is: How to give feedback with cyberkindness – particularly to people you only know as an avatar? Here are some of the (paraphrased and blended) ideas other group members posted in response – all suggesting different approaches to kindness in giving feedback:

  • If you cannot say something nice, don’t say anything at all
  • It is not always important to share your views
  • There is always a better way of saying things
  • For every thing you criticise, think of more things to praise
  • Are you guilty of what you are criticising others for
  • Take time to think about what you are going to say
  • There is a real person on the end of every post
  • Step back and think how the other person may feel
  • Focus your comments on helping the other person
  • A kind gesture from the heart can inspire, motivate and empower
  • Share opinions from a space of kindness and love

It’s a pretty impressive list isn’t it? It’s hard to add anything to it all. The answer to how to give feedback with cyberkindness is right here and looks like this:

  1. You don’t have to say everything you think….
  2. Because there is real person on the other end…
  3. So be as helpful (and specific) as possible with your feedback…
  4. But don’t forget to point out the good things too…  
  5. And remember to do all this from a mindset of kindness and caring. 

Breathtaking isn’t it? I think if we can all start giving feedback like this in forums and groups – we’ll start ramping up the cyberkindness level out there – and within ourselves. And hopefully we’ll have less occasion to comfort those who have been hurt – and get the help from we need in a positive and productive manner.

So what do you think? How will you give feedback now?









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