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How to Use Social Media and Other Technologies to Improve Your Conversation Skills
 
 

Using Social Media and Other Technology in Improving Conversations

As technology continue to advance, it has large implications on the way our world continues to grow socially, as well as how you as an individual function in social situations. Especially with the onset of social media as an avenue to stay connected literally every minute of the day to events in the world and even personal lives of people we know. The overtaking of social media and continued technological advances can seem somewhat daunting. For those individuals who grew up prior to the onset of social media, they are required to have a steep learning curve in keeping up with the new methods of socializing and advancing in the professional arena. For those who have had social media and more advanced technology most of their lives, there are still some important point that this article will touch upon in helping to ensure you can utilize social media to your fullest advantage, personally and professionally.

Social media offers a great deal of positive advantages to each person's lives. It always for families and friends to stay connected when they might otherwise never get to talk. You are able to share pictures, stories, and celebrations with big life transitions. However, there are some pitfalls that people can fall into when it comes to social media that can impact our social lives and even our own self-esteem. One of these pitfalls includes the negative impact of assumptions. The large majority of what you see on social media is taken out of context. You get a glimpse of a picture that you have no other context for, or you read a person's status updates that provides very brief information into whatever situation or context they are commenting on or expression emotions about. Yet, the human brain naturally fills in gaps, it is wired to form continuous lines of information. So when you only receive snip its of something, your brain will start to fill in the rest, this is what is call assuming. The dangers of assuming are it can lead to you forming more firm beliefs or ideas about something. You may fill in the gaps about someone else's life and this can go on to impact the way you talk with them in person. So developing a mindful approach to reading or seeing things on social media is vital as you enhance your own communication and social skills.

This can also be said of taking in information from the media. With technology bombarding our every area of life, from radio, to television, websites with endless ads, and social media with thousands of opinions and links to unsubstantiated sources, your brain is an easier target for assuming. You are bombarded with ideas, news, thoughts, and what is portrayed as facts by media outlets. It can be very tricky to navigate this technological canyon. The best tip for approaching anything in the media is to be critical thinker. Critical thinking skills are vital in you maintaining who you are and avoiding blindly following certain ideas or causes. The best practice you can do is to pay close attention to your immediate thoughts after you read a social media status or news headline. Are you automatically thinking a thought that agrees or even strongly disagrees? Is that actually based off well research evidence? Or is it largely stemming from emotion and impulsive reactions? The goal is to become a critically responsible consumer. This term means that you acknowledge and idea or story, but do not fully accept it right away. Instead you do your own research, use what you find to drive conversation, and ask the hard questions. This will keep you informed and also motivate others to avoid assuming and blindly following the multiple sources our brains are bombarded with through social media and technology. In addition to social media, technology allows people to look up information and get answer instantaneously. Again, however, the dangers of this are you may choose a source that is in fact unreliable or wrong. So how can you know what to read and what to trust? This goes back to being a critical consumer of information. When you are doing research for work purposes, use search engines that have solid reputations for peer reviewed sources. This ensures that experts in the field and topics are the authors you are finding, helping avoid using unsubstantiated claims or information.

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In addition to avoiding assumptions, another pitfall of social media is the danger of people comparing their own lives to there people's lives. This is very easy trap to fall into. You see a person on Facebook posting picture of their family and posting status about how happy and wonderful they feel. This may very well be true, and also one can wish well to all our friends through social media. However, the danger comes when we begin to compare our lives to the presented lives on social media. The key here is the lives are presented. Remember you are only getting snip its of a person's life on social media. Also remember, that person controls what they say and what they post. Therefore, you cannot assume their lives are wonderful and amazing compare to yours. A helpful practice in these scenarios is to begin practices your mindful thought awareness as you are on social media. What thoughts come up? Are you making statements that compare your life to other people's lives? Remind yourself, you do not know the inner workings of this person's life. So you cannot compare. Also take note of your mood, as your mood will influence the thoughts you have as you look through social media. You may be having a bad day and comparing yourself to others. Use your thought journal to reflect on this, and then also reflect on the thoughts that come up when you are in a positive mood.

Social media and technology also allow for great career avenue in making connections and networking. However, there are also major pitfalls to avoid when using social media and technology to advance your career. Never underestimate the interconnectivity of the internet. People have most likely heard this, but it is very possible for anything you post to be found by someone. So when in doubt, do not post it. Remember, you have control over your entire image online. You can portray yourself in any fashion, so establishing the goals for each of your profiles on social media outlets is a helpful start. You may have goal of keeping in touch with loved ones far away, or a goal of being able to network for work. Either way, one can influence the other. So if you have personal goals for a social media profile, avoid any presentation of yourself that could shed a negative light in your professional world. Use common sense judgement, which essentially means to always be mindful of what you say and the images you post.

In avoiding some these pitfalls and traps of social media and technology, you can start to learn the ways social media and technology can enhance your own life. Use it for its purpose - to stay connected. It is very easy to get caught up in our lives, especially when people are physically far away. We may see their posts and pictures, which is a nice way to keep up with some things happening in their lives. However, social media is a fast and easy way to reach out and keep that emotional connection. You might catch saying, "I should see how that person is doing." However, then you get sidetracked and weeks go by. Instead, a helpful strategy is when you catch yourself saying this, act on it right then and there. You will realize it takes a couple minutes to write a nice message and express your love and care. This will not only impact the other person's day, but will enhance your own emotional well-being by maintaining connections.

Social media and technology are also a great positive tool for promoting a cause you are passionate about. Whether is work related or personal, you can use social media to get a backing for support during hard times or to develop upon a plan you have for a work project. Use social media to provide information about your cause and reasons why it is important to you. Remember, while technology can seem very automatic and instantaneous, there are humans behind every screen that command every aspect of technology. So touch upon the human factor. Bringing this into social media, can help use social media for positive purposes; to bring people together to support some in need or to bring awareness to a cause that without such technology would be swept under the rug. As you use social media and technology for these purposes, remember to avoid your own blindly developed opinions from seeping in. Others will fall into these traps; however, it is not your place to try and convince them of other opinions. However, if it is the case that you have deep experiences or professional expertise in a certain topic and do notice someone using social media to create a toxic environment, it can be appropriate to advocate for what you know and have experienced. The goal in advocating the social media is not to be defensive or put down others. It is likely, each person has seen such communications on social media and felt compelled to say something. However, if you notice, little is most likely accomplished used such a toxic form of communication. Instead fall back on the social skills . Rely on empathy and validation, speak from your own experience, and never assume to know the other person's life. These three components will help you shape a more nourishing environment on social media and hopeful impact other in a positive way through your advocacy.


Social media and technology will inform most of the in person conversations you have. Many conversations may revolve around topics on social media or new outlets immediately available online. So not only as you are navigating through online sources, but even in person, you will want to be acutely mindful of the information others are giving you. Since it is so easy for any person to fall into the traps of blindly accepting information that is so readily available on social media, you will want to ask questions. Do not necessarily agree immediately, instead show you are genuinely intrigued and ask informed questions to not only figure out whether you can trust the information, but also to help the other person question the information they are providing. In order to avoid evoking a defensive response from the other person as you question the information they are presenting form online or social media, be sure to use your validation skills and your empathy. Your goal is to not put down the other person, rather to think deeper about the topic being discussed. So this goal should conveyed through the type of questions you ask. Validation of the person's passion or ideas can help to maintain your rapport and connection, while also challenging the idea with the goal of working together to both be critical consumers of information.

Overall, it is a fact that social media and technology will only become more pervasive in our lives. With this evolution, each person must work to keep up with how to use social media and technology to improve your own life and engage with the online world in a way that fosters a positive movement. While a person cannot come close to impacting others positively via social media, due to the sheer number of people in the world, another skills becomes knowing where you could have an impact and where your energy may not evoke what you desire at this time. This is done by returning back to your social intelligence, just through the domain of the internet. Operate from pure intentions, advocate from your own experience and expertise, and use social media to stay emotionally connected to loved ones around the world. Using these strategies as the foundation to your online presence will allow you to use the growing technological world to your own advantage.

 
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