Social awareness hinges on our ability as humans to empathize with those around us, especially those who aren’t like us.
True social awareness comes from a desire to help people, not just solve their problems. And even in the real world, this can be a challenge.
Through the barrier of technology and social media, it can be even more difficult.
Read on for our guide on building social awareness in your online community below.
1. How Does Empathy Play a Role in Social Awareness?
As you interact with a community of people online you will encounter posts, ideas, and political positions you don’t agree with. Before responding in anger or distrust consider these questions:
- How would I feel if I were in this person’s situation?
- What experiences led them to this position/situation/conclusion?
- How do I feel after reading or seeing this? Would it help me to talk to someone in person before interacting or responding?
As you exercise empathy for others it will help you react in a compassionate way.
Imagine someone sharing in your online community about a frustrating situation at work. Instead of responding to their frustrations by saying “Well, at least you have a job!” try exercising empathy and then responding.
If you were in their situation, what would you want to hear or feel from others? Are you concerned about their well being or just trying to solve the problem?
Instead, you might respond with “Wow, I can completely understand why that is so difficult. I’m sorry that you’re going through that. I would like to help. What can I do?”
2. Social Cues: Learning and Recognizing
During in-person conversations, you can analyze a person’s body language, tone of voice, expressions, etc. But online, none of those indicators are present.
Consider the following social cues and what they suggest about a situation or conversation online.
- Accusatory Phrases or Language
- Punctuation (Or Lack Thereof): In online business interactions you can expect mild punctuation use. But in personal or community posts, punctuation can be a clue to how someone is feeling or reacting to a situation (think about if someone were to respond to a request for help with “Yes.” vs “Yes!”)
- Emojis: People typically use emojis to express emotion or add emphasis. Don’t be scared to google what an emoji means if you’re not sure at first glance.
- Capitalization: All caps indicates shouting or anger
3. Get Involved
Use your online community to find and share ways to get involved within your community.
Look for opportunities that encourage you to learn about and serve people from another group or environment.
Volunteering at a homeless shelter will help you better understand the needs of people in poverty. Working with a refugee center can help you empathize with people experiencing displacement and learning a different language.
As you become aware of volunteer and service opportunities, consider making a service newsletter that you distribute throughout your online community. Use the same newsletter templates each time so community members can easily recognize opportunities.
Research also shows that helping others can decrease your risk of depression, increase your lifespan, and reduce stress levels.
You’ll get out of a community and relationship no more than what you put in. So if you want a community of people who are empathetic, responsive, and service-oriented, then be those things.
Social awareness takes practice and effort even in the real world, so it’s no surprise that in online interactions it’s even more difficult. But it’s not impossible!
Stick to these tips and you’ll be well on your way to creating and contributing to a healthier, more socially aware online community around you.
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