Lessons in Leadership

for Health Coaches

Dealing with conflict online can be a tricky road.  Have you felt the rage that seems to be going around the world right now, especially on social media at all levels?  There are a lot of good people who are having trouble communicating their well-earned opinions in a constructive manner.  What’s worse, is, that although it’s generally accepted that assertive people do better, not everyone has a positive feeling about the assertiveness in themselves, and others don’t accept it in others.

If you’ve been watching what happens on Facebook, or even the neighborhood sites; anger spreads.  

For many reasons, people feel more comfortable expressing negative emotions in an online environment.

Health Coaches need to be able to deal with situations that arise out of strong emotion if you are going to be facilitating online groups, monitoring fan pages, and even blog threads.  Not to mention if you’re on social media interacting yourself.

In this post, we’ll talk about all you should know about dealing with conflict; why conflict is good, why you must deal with it effectively, what causes emotion to escalate online, and how to effectively deal with it.

     Why Conflict is Good


While agreeing on things may be the easy way, disagreement leads to growth and new ideas.

In business, families, and communities, leaders are expected to challenge ideas and it’s normal and good to disagree.  A good leader doesn’t compromise to avoid conflict, they push their opinions.

If we all agreed on everything, there would be no change and little progress.  It’s also not a realistic expectation.

The key to gaining advantage from disagreement is to do it respectfully.  Anyone online or in social media lately sees that it’s a big problem.  A problem that we need to work on.

     Emotion and Customer Loyalty


Customers react to their emotions after an interaction.

If you’re doing business online in social media or groups where your customers interact, it’s crucial that you keep close tabs on the interaction and tone of the conversation.

A recent study showed fascinating buyer habits after different types of interactions that led to emotional feelings.  People who are angry, disappointed, or frustrated are least loyal.  25% of people who were confused or worried were loyal.  Consumers who were excited, or felt appreciated, happy, confident, or relieved were most loyal.

“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.”
Wayne Dyer

     Understanding Escalation of Emotions


The one thing you want to avoid is disagreement as entertainment.  Conflict for the sake of conflict is useless debate.

A study at Beihang University showed that the emotion most likely to spread on social media is rage.  Unfortunate but true.  I know you understand this if you’re on Facebook or one of the neighborhood groups this week talking about politics, religion, or fireworks.  One person’s emotions will influence the feelings of their readers and, with the internet, negative energy will spread from one corner of the earth to the other in a split second.

Many people feel more uninhibited online because they feel like no one really knows them.  They are words in a group. Often they are hateful words in a group. They are dissociated from the responsibility and repercussions of their inappropriate and rude actions. This is not true, because once you’ve placed something on the internet, it’s there forever and it can be traced back to you, even if you’re acting anonymously.

In person-to-person interaction, we’re face-to-face and not invisible.  Online communication can give the illusion of being invisible.  This is true with texting, posting, emailing, chats, messages, and blogs.

We often respond without thought of consequence because it takes seconds to respond.  When we interact with people by mail, we have to take the time to get the paper, write the note, revise the note, and then stuff, seal, and address the envelope.  You know people don’t do that in their emails if they have a PS that says “please excuse the typos”.  Quick and impulsive communication does not give us the time to prevent a lapse in judgment.

Some people don’t think in terms of authority, although their best customers and their boss may be reading (and probably are) everything they write on social media.  Sometimes, you need to see the boss, minister, teacher, or client for the common sense to kick in to be reserved in communication.

Finally, many people treat online debate as a game.  They don’t feel strongly about the subject, the thrill is in the win.  If you have this temptation, find someone to play with you off the internet.  If you run into someone like this, get away from them.  They will suck every bit of energy right out of you and it can be very tempting when they are threatening your values.

     Tips to Deal With Conflict Effectively


Constructive conflict can be productive and good.  The trick is keeping the tone respectful and constructive.


If you have groups for your clients, or anyone, set clear and concise guidelines on expectations for behavior.  Having rules with express expectations as well as consequences that are spelled out can prevent problems and explain your actions.  Have 0 tolerance for bad energy.  If you want, you can allow disagreements or conflict, never allow negative conversation or personal attacks, or rudeness.


It’s not personal.  You may get upset, but practice being upset with the idea, not the person. Support your position with facts.  By focusing on the facts instead of the person your argument will be more compelling and hard to disagree with.


Look for the good.  Not just in the person, but their idea.  Try to find a point of agreement.


Be respectful of the other person’s idea.  You don’t have to agree, but don’t put it down.  If you resist sarcasm, “yelling”, or negative comments, you’ll have a better chance of being heard with your own ideas.  It’s never productive to react negatively.


Make sure you speak of your feelings and thoughts, go back and strike out the word you in anything you say, it’s too argumentative and offensive.


Walk away if you have to.  Take a breather.  Go ahead and type it out.  Don’t hit send.  Leave, come back and edit.  Then if you have to, leave again and repeat this until your response is respectful and on point.


Know when it’s time to walk away completely.  Sometimes strength comes when you say nothing.

     Further Reading


If this topic was interesting to you, and you’d like to do some further reading, click on the links below.


Join in the conversation below.  What has been your experience with online conflict?


Did you enjoy this blog? 

Sign up to receive a weekly notice.

1 Comment

  1. Eva Wright

    Great topic for discussion as there is so much going on with Social media being used as an outlet these days. Thanks for tapping in on this.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.