How to Deal with Awkward Online Conversations

How to Deal with Awkward Online Conversations

How to Deal with Awkward Online Conversations

There’s always that one person who has to step in and ruin a perfectly good conversation by saying something awkward. You know the one: you send out a perfect tweet that you’ve thought about a LOT, and they criticize it for no reason. Now, this is a bit different than a troll, so banishing them from your kingdom by throwing them back under a bridge might not be the best option.

 steady photo


Sometimes when you’re chatting online, you might not know if someone is joking or not. Does that happen to you? It happens to me in real life, too, but that’s a whole other story. Using an emoji can signal to the other person that you are indeed joking. Or that you’re angry. Or happy! Here’s a fascinating article: 7 Reasons to Use Emoticons in Your Writing and Social Media, According to Science.

By the way, did you know that Twitter measures the sentiment of your tweets using data science? You can search for a word, then go to Advanced Search and scroll to the bottom. So, for instance, you could search on Startups==>>Advanced Search==>>scroll to the bottom and check the positive emotion box. And voilà! You’ll have a list of positive tweets about startups.

Silence is Golden

If you feel that a conversation is veering into an Ocean of Awkward, one of your best weapons is silence. Like the space between notes in music, silence has power and isn’t used nearly often enough. So if there’s an awkward question, let your weapon of silence loose! Also, if you’re an introvert (like I am), silence can drive the extroverts in the room absolutely batty. So there’s that. Here’s an article about introversion that I enjoyed writing: Six Facts About Introverts and Social Media That Will Impress Your Friends.

 steady photo

Forgetting Names

Online, people have aliases, avatars, and bizarre names. And yet they expect you to remember their names without having an accurate name tag! What’s a forgetful person to do? You could ask a friend of your friend. If you haven’t known your new friend for very long, you could ask them directly, too.


If someone’s friend has passed away, what do you say? It depends. If you don’t know them too well, you can say you’re sorry for their loss. This works as a good first step in any case. And if you don’t think that the Internet Has Changed the Way we Deal with Death, then you’re mistaken. We grieve online as much as online now. Think about when your friends of friends have passed away. And think about Prince passed. What a huge outpouring of grief online! Other ways of dealing could be sending cards, private messages, cards in real life, real flowers, gift cards, and so on.

Feeling Awkward?

Has this entire post made you feel even more awkward than you already feel? Leave me an awkward comment! Then we’ll both feel awkward. But at least we won’t feel as lonely.


Deflective Armor Online

Deflective Armor Online

Deflective Armor Online

Recently, I was in a Google Plus Hangout about “Deflective Armor,” and how we all encase ourselves sometimes to avoid difficult feelings. Sometimes this armor is a thin shell and sometimes we wear a mask to hide what we’re feeling. I can really get behind this topic. Online, as an introvert, I very often don’t want to share what I’m feeling. Sometimes describing how I’m feeling is too complicated, and it’s easier to just say “everything is fine.” Other times, I simply don’t want to share. As I get more followers, too, sharing with thousands of people is very different than sharing with just a tiny group of close-knit friends. I may not be close enough to the person to want to share, even though sharing would of course make me feel closer. In any event, it’s a lack of trust (in a stranger) that is often at the heart of why I might not want to share.

How Do You Really, Really Feel?

Sometimes knowing how we feel can be a complex puzzle in that it requires processing to get to the heart of the matter. It’s complicated enough to talk about our feelings–and what about those times when you don’t know what you’re feeling, or you haven’t decided how you feel? Sometimes I have to think through and process for some time before knowing–maybe that’s part of being an introvert.

Barriers Can be Physical or Psychological

Some of the physical barriers we might put up include a costume–anything from big shoes, to a wig, to fake eyelashes–all of which can hide who we really are to psychological barriers (being too busy to get into one’s real feelings). Although revealing our true selves can always make us closer to others, we might not want to make the leap of faith to get there, especially if you’ve ever been hurt by someone online.

Lead through Revelation

Let Some of Your Secrets Loose

Let Some of Your Secrets Loose

Often I’ve found that being the first one to reveal what you’re truly feeling gives everyone else permission to be honest. Sometimes people “trade” a piece of truth for another piece of truth. Revealing a secret makes someone else reveal a secret, like it’s a form of currency. As kids in school, we like to tell each others’ secrets. “Shh! Don’t tell anyone!” we’ll say, even while we are betraying someone else’s secret. But if it’s our own secret, is it a betrayal? But how about as leaders? Don’t we want to be able to lead by being honest? A full 40% of executives say that they are introverts, as reported by Forbes.

How Do You Choose What to Reveal?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers here. Being honest can be a difficult dilemma online. How do you choose what to reveal and what to hide? Please leave me a comment! I’d love to know what you think!


Common Sense Social Media

Common Sense Social Media

Common Sense Social Media

Hello, my name is Carol. I am a nice, polite lady. Usually. But nowadays on the Internet, all these kids with their loud music and their bad manners are getting under my skin–and on my lawn.  I’ve been seeing such rudeness that I really do want to ask people if they were raised in a barn. Maybe to some people the Internet is a new, new thing, all shiny and just out of the gift bag. I’m seeing some things that I haven’t seen for a long time, like extreme rudeness, ignoring people’s comments, and worse. So here are my maybe not-so-polite views on a few things.

Saying Hello

If you have followers, fans, likers, and whatnot, how about saying hello to them once in a while? They’ve taken the effort to follow you, so how about an occasional shoutout? Would that be too much to ask? You could just say “How’s everybody doing tonight?” or “Good Morning, World!” or some other cheerful expression that you love to use.

Say Thank You

Saying Thank You Makes You Stand Out

Saying Thank You Makes You Stand Out

As my friend Bridget says, “in what universe is a retweet a thank you?” and I’ve gotta agree with her. If someone shares your material or retweets you, say thank you. Retweeting their tweet is not the same thing as thanking them. Say thank you often. Don’t be a social media snob. And if you’re a Baby Boomer, you’re already way ahead in the politeness game.

Pretend There Are Real People on the Internet

Because there are. Except for the bots and spammers, that is. If someone complimented you, you wouldn’t ignore them, right? If they tried to start a conversation with you in real life, you’d say something back, unless you were literally unable to speak. If you’re too busy, say you’re too busy. It’s really pretty simple. And if you’re a brand, ignoring conversations or not being present on social media could be even more detrimental.

Follow People Back

Yes, everyone wants some “social proof” by not following people back. And at first, I felt the same way. But if that other person has some value to add to your online conversations, follow them back. Being polite is one way to get followers on Twitter or on any platform.

Doing Online What You’d Never Do In Real Life

If you did in real life what you do online, people would think you were creepy. So if you wouldn’t share those 99 photos of your filing cabinet in real life, why are you doing that online?

Got a Pet Peeve?

Do you wish people had more common sense manners online? Please share with me! And thank you.

PoCchat: Driving Online Connections Offline

PoCchat: Driving Online Connections offline

PoCchat: Driving Online Connections offline

Recently, I had the good fortune to co-host Bobby Umar’s #PoCchat on Twitter. PoC stands for Power of Connection. I “discovered” Bobby through his dynamic TEDx presentation The 5 Cs of Connection. I really appreciate having the opportunity, and thought I’d go a little deeper into my own personal reasons to “Drive Online Connections Offline”–the topic of the tweetchat.

By the way, here are the numbers that our tweetchat generated:

PocChat: Driving Online Connections Offline

PocChat: Driving Online Connections Offline


Connecting Offline

Similar to @IdeaBloke, whenever I go somewhere now, I consider if there’s someone I could meet from online. Better still, are there two people I could meet? For instance, I recently met one of my new besties, @CarlaKerstens through friend @WClements1 on Twitter, and then we met at Twitter. Since then, we’ve texted, Facebooked, tweeted, had meals and drinks, gone to Big Sur, the Exploratorium, and drunk hot chocolate at @TCHO.

@Ideabloke always tries to look up people he knows from online

@Ideabloke always tries to look up people he knows from online


At WordCampSF, I met up with friend Ruby Rusine (@SocialChirps) who had traveled from Sacramento for her first WordCamp. Although we had never met before, we spent many hours together, and, by the end of WordCamp, had each invited the other to stay the next time we needed a place. And also got to visit with my friend Darla @DarlasRock, who I’d met because we’d both gone to see @BrianSolis for his #WTF talk and giveaway at @Yammer.


One of my favorite experiences was traveling to WordCamp Orange County, where I got to meet my online friend Peter Woolvett (@CustomerSpecs) in real life. We met up with a third friend, @Gidgey, sat together, and attended many of the same talks. During a few slow times, we snuck out together for espresso and sorbet, attended an after-party, and searched out unusual breakfast places. Laughter ensued.

More Friendship Than Business

When @Gidgey traveled up north to see her family, I got to meet her talented and lovely sis, @TheMcCannski, and travel to Marin together. In addition, we met up with the rest of her family and had brunch together. And recently, when another friend, whom I met on Twitter, came down for a conference, we met up and she stayed with me.

The Bestest

Hammin' it Up in Sedona

Hammin’ it Up in Sedona

Last year, I met up with nine women whom I met through Twitter, among them Pam (@PamAnnMarketing), Bridget (@Gidgey), Roxanne (@r3SocialMedia), Cyndi (@SoSchatze), Wendy (@MrsPickle_), Amy (@TheFabulousOne), Kendra (@Kendra_Hubbard), Deirdre (@TankGirlMktg), and Kirti (@DiyaMarketing). At first our comraderie centered around business. Now we are friends and I can’t imagine life without them–since we talk every day. This year, we are doing another in-person meetup. Next year, we hope that the always effervescent Ali (@AliSilversmith) and Jen and the “other Bridget” can join us. And of course we give each other support, friendship, advice, and business, too. A few of us are breaking off to do still another meetup with a few others who tweet for automotive businesses.


I would not hesitate to call up any of these people–now friends–if I needed a shoulder to cry on, or for personal or professional advice. What I would advise others is not to be afraid to deepen your online relationships by, as Bobby Umar would put it, “asking the tough questions.” Then when you meet in person it’s like you’re meeting an old friend in the flesh.

How About You?

These are just a few examples of people I’ve met through online connections. If you’ve met people from online, offline, how did it go? I’m really interested in your stories!


Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On LinkedinCheck Our Feed