A little over twe… >koff koff< years ago, I yelled at my roommate’s son to, “Stop acting like a child!”
He looked at me, so perplexed and replied, “But I AM a child!”
Generally, emotions make poor decisions ~ especially in emails or on the internet. People who post when they’re upset cause more strife and angst in community forums than anything else. Political posts, people who are breaking up and simple differences of opinion can cause the average, even-tempered person to “lose it” on line.
When moderating, it’s important to keep in mind which persona you’re interacting with. People who are upset are often not interested in “being reasonable.” In other words, they’re angry or hurt. Telling them to stop being or acting like it is not helpful. Be gentle with them.
If you can find something positive in their post, praise it. If you can’t, commiserate with them. This one can be tricky. Saying, “I’m sorry you’re having to deal with that jerk,” looks like you’re taking their side and that is counterproductive.
Instead, try using a sandwich approach. Start by saying something like, “I’m sorry to see that you’re having a hard time.” Then you can tell them what you’ve done or ask them to dial things back. The last thing to do is revisit the praise or commiseration. Make sure you rephrase it so that they don’t feel like they’re being copied and pasted a form letter. Also, make sure that what you’re saying is sincere.
Finally, remember that you, yourself and you can also lose your temper and emotions generally make poor decisions. If you’re upset with your member when you’re trying to moderate them, write your message as a draft and wait to send it. Better yet, if you have a teammate, ask them to review your message to see what they think.
You’re not dealing with pixels on a screen. There is a real person on the other side. Speak to them in a tone that is appropriate for the situation and guide them in the direction you need them to go. Moderating can be a delicate task, but remember who you’re talking to. That goes a long way toward making it easy.