Conflict in online communities: Strategies and Tips
It is a really challenging time right now, many people are managing lots of distress on top of less access to what they usually use to cope. With the extra stress in the community, we’ve noticed more potential for conflict at home, with friends and family, and also here on the forums. Conflict is a normal part of human relationships, yet it can be very uncomfortable for many of us. Conflict in a space or with a person we value, can be intensely painful. So, we wanted to go over some tips for getting through these situations.
Firstly, online communication can be challenging
If you think about a heated discussion you had face-to-face, think about the extra information you had… You were able to read their body language, facial expressions, and their tone. You knew when they were joking and you knew when you had ‘gone too far’ and could pull back straight away. In online relationships you don’t get these cues, and the potential for misunderstandings therefore increases.
Your wellbeing is the first priority
Reading some posts could feel like a physical blow, or trigger a fight, flight, or freeze response. So, pay attention to this, and take a step back to self-care first. After this you will be in a better place to respond to a tricky situation. Taking self-care breaks from the forum is more important than ever, and we have a self-care guide you can read over at any time.
Trying to create more understanding
It can be helpful to put yourself in their shoes, how might they be feeling right now? Where might they be coming from? Is it possible you have misunderstood or they misunderstood you? Try clarifying… “I feel like your comment was saying x, but I could be wrong, could you explain more?”
Honouring your own voice
Using “I” statements is a good rule of thumb for communicating respectfully. “I feel hurt” or “I feel frustrated” gets across how you feel. “You” statements on the other hand often make people feel defensive or misunderstood.
Focusing on the issue rather than on the person is helpful too. For example, “those comments felt hurtful” or “I really disagree with that opinion” again avoids those “You” statements.
Is there any potential for learning here?
As uncomfortable as the situation has been, are there things you can value about the other person’s perspective? Have you clarified a misunderstanding or found out more about yourself or the other person?
What am I trying to achieve?
When it’s heated it can be helpful to ask yourself: Am I trying to ‘win’ or make this person agree with me? Am I trying to ‘make’ them feel okay about something? At the end of the day you can only communicate your needs, perspective, and feelings respectfully. The other person is in charge of their response.
I’m feeling really distressed by this
If you are struggling with anything on the forums please don’t hesitate to contact the email@example.com email. If you witness conflict unfolding and are concerned please reach out to us via email or alert moderators with an '@Moderator'. It’s our job to support members to feel safe on the forums.
This is such a supportive community, with great humans on it, and each and every member is doing their best at all times. I know there is a lot of collective knowledge here so I’d love to hear from you – what have you tried when it comes to misunderstandings or resolving conflict online? What worked and how can we learn from it? Please join us as we grow as a community
If you need urgent assistance, see Need help now For mental health information, guidance and referrals, see the SANE Help Centre SANE Forums is published by SANE Australia with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health SANE Australia ABN 92006533606 PO Box 226 South Melbourne 3205 Australia