We all have times when we see someone say something online that we feel strongly about. When you care a lot about something it can be hard to know how to talk to someone about it without things getting overly heated. To help, we’ve put together our top four tips on how to disagree with someone respectfully online:

1. Stay calm

Take a deep breath, and give yourself a moment before you choose to reply. If you write up a reply, consider taking a few minutes to get up and do something else before you send it – sometimes in the heat of the moment we can say things that we later regret. Even if the other person is getting heated or angry in their responses, you don’t have to respond the same way. It’s not always easy, but it’s a good idea to aim to be the mature one who manages the conversation to stop it getting out of hand.

2. Don’t get personal

Calling someone names or putting them down never helps to make a situation better. Instead of saying “That’s a stupid idea” you could try saying “I don’t agree and this is why…”. Sometimes just a simple change in how something is phrased can make a big difference in the way the conversation goes. Although it’s hard, it’s best to try and not focus on the person who you disagree with and instead focus on the idea or concept they’ve shared and why you don’t agree with it.

3. Use “I” statements

Rather than focusing on the “you” (which can be interpreted as being argumentative) sometimes it’s safer to focus on yourself and how a comment has made you feel or what you might think about it. Instead of “You shouldn’t have said that” you could try “That comment made me feel upset/disappointed because…”.

4. Listen to their point of view

When you’re disagreeing with someone online, take the time to acknowledge that you have read and tried to understand their point of view. Being a good listener is a way to show that you respect and understand another person’s perspective. If you’re being respectful to someone else, then it means they are more likely to treat you the same way – even if you both disagree on something.

5. If things go too far

If you feel like an argument has gone too far and the other person is being abusive or harassing you, it’s important to know your options for ending the conversation and keeping yourself safe. If it’s possible to do so you could let them know that you’re not keen to continue the conversation any longer. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe you should consider reporting the person’s comments to the platform (e.g. Instagram or Facebook) as well as muting or blocking the person.

CONTACT NETSAFE

If you or someone you know needs help or advice about something that’s happened online, you can contact us seven days a week.

  • Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282
  • Fill out an online contact form 
  • Email help@netsafe.org.nz
  • Call us free phone on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723). 

Our contact centre is open 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am – 5pm on weekends and public holidays.  

If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, call 111. 

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