I’m on the Board of the Long Beach Opera , and last week went to the premiere of Nixon In China (and did I mention that our final performance is on Sunday? You can buy tickets here…). For the first half of the first song, the guy sitting directly behind me was stage-whispering to his date. I turned to give him the imploring look, but he had his face buried in her ear, so I reached back and tapped his knee. He started, turned to me, and I gave him a finger to lips gesture. He cursed under his breath and told me to turn around or else.
Now I had a choice at this point. I could have argued with him or escalated further. Or, I could have let it go and accepted the fact that I’d gotten what I wanted – he wasn’t talking any more.
It’s a basic issue in interpersonal relationships and conflict – how am I going to react?
Looking back at the Nestle social media disaster, I’ve got to point out that while Nestle was the targeted victim of a deliberate attack, a big chunk of the damage was self-inflicted.
Read this thread:
Note the tone of the official Nestle representative.
Oil on troubled waters – or nitromethane on a fire?
Note below when I mentioned that in a crisis, almost all people get stupid. One form of the stupidity is to mirror aggressiveness. It’s a basic human trait; we bristle when people bristle at us.
Two kinds of people seem to have mastered this reflex – the spiritual (think Dalai Lama) and warriors.
I’ve had some acquaintance with warriors in my life (note that I’m certainly not claiming to be one…); one stayed at my house when teaching a Field Trauma class I’d put together. John Holschen used to teach Special Forces soldiers martial arts. It’s likely that given a bowling ball and a pair of chopsticks, he could kill everyone in any given room – think of him as a real-life Jack Bauer.
And he’s one of the gentlest, most unflappable, calmest people I’ve ever met. Seriously.
So when I have to decide whether to turn around and snarl at the jackass in the seat behind me or not, I’ve got a role model. And I sat silently and enjoyed the opera, and there was no confrontation – which looks a lot like victory to me.
When you’re dealing with your social media presence, keep that in mind.