Improving Civility in Our Social Media

Communicating with mutual understanding—It’s not always easy but it IS important.  

Unfortunately, many of us have lost sight of that importance. 

Communicating in a Politically-Charged Climate

Amidst today’s charged political and social climates, it’s all too easy to casually brush aside (or even flat-out disregard) communication that runs contrary to our personal belief system. 

Especially when the technologies we rely on so heavily to facilitate that communication—gChat, SMS, iMessage, Facebook, Twitter, etc—create broad degrees of separation between ideas and individuals. We don’t see the person disagreeing with us, only their Twitter handle, their profile picture, or the bright green text bubble populating our message window.

Think about it—in a world dominated by the platforms of social and digital media, how rare is it to perceive an opinion as a valid offering from another human being? And how common is it to perceive an opinion as an invalid antagonism offered by some nameless, faceless entity? 

Mutual Understanding & True Communication

The former facilitates mutual understanding and true communication, while the latter dismisses both.

When two parties fail to engage in true communication—when they only make an effort to press their ideas upon opponents—they fail to cultivate an environment of mutual understanding. They succeed only in cultivating an environment of misunderstanding, anger, and spite, which furthers political, social, and cultural divides.

We must seek mutual understanding in our communication if we are to create an atmosphere of openness and resolution. 

An Example

To help frame the importance of this principle, I’d like you to examine the following Facebook post: 


Just imagine for a moment how ornery and callous this conversation could have gone if both Robert and BJ were not men of openness —willing to engage in non-combative conversation in order to come to terms with each other’s perception? A willingness to employ mutual understanding unlocked the door to civility and diplomacy here.

If you want to learn more about mutual understanding, and the PRACTICE required to successfully implement it in your life, check out Webinar #6: The 8 PRACTICEs of Highly Successful Surgeons— Masters Class - Communication with Mutual Understanding.

- Jeff