We've all had the experience of people leaping to the wrong conclusion as a result of something we have written that has been read differently from how we intended. That's why people started writing 'lol' and putting smiley faces and things in their emails and texts. It helps. A bit.
Now, though, the dangers of misunderstanding get multiplied by Facebook and Twitter. There are more people impacted by what you write; and many more lurking, just reading without commenting. So many more opportunities to get it wrong.
So what to do:
- Write when you're calm. Never sound off in anger
- Use neutral phrases and stick to facts, not feelings, where you can
- Read it back "out loud" (in your head!)
- Try to imagine how it could be read accidentally, or maliciously
- Use the emoticons and 'lol' cues to signal your feelings and intentions
- Sit on it - delay posting
- If in doubt, don't post
- Deal with difficult stuff face to face or over the phone in preference to a Facebook wall post or page rant
- Be a peace-maker, not breaker