Contributed blog by Russel Lolacher, Director of Web and Social Media Services for the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and author of the Relationships at Work blog
We can love what we do and still need to practice self-care to address our mental health.
In providing digital engagement to the public through frontline social media services, you will engage every day — answering questions, correcting misinformation, listening to concerns, passing on feedback and more. This is all in an effort to grow as a trusted resource and build relationships with your audience.
But, as with any frontline communications role that involves engaging directly with other humans, it’s not always easy. Whether it’s a recent announcement, progress on a project, delivery of a service or explanations on why a government decision was made, some topics can be met with resistance, and sometimes, that’s putting it mildly. Your responses could be considered “not enough” or “too much” in areas that are sensitive or “completely wrong” all together. And on social media, it’s quite common for people to express their displeasure to you far more extremely than they ever would face-to-face. That can show up as profanity, personal accusations and, sometimes, threats.
It is absolutely important as a government organization to be available for your audience and to regularly engage with them. It’s hard to build a brand and public trust if you aren’t there to have a relationship with.
But, it can add up. On Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, your blog, your etc., you can get hundreds (and far more) of messages per day. Sure, there are some messages of curiosity, kudos and sharing, but a lot of it is going to be frustration and conflict.
And though you may practice patience, empathy and a citizen-first approach, it can be hard on a person’s mental health being challenged or “attacked” as the frontline contact to that displeasure. Psychology Today wrote an article on this, stating a study “found that when customer service representatives receive a heightened number of angry or abusive calls it impacts them psychologically and emotionally.”
Here are a few self-care tips that I’ve found work during some of those times:
In the moment:
For more ideas on how to handle stress, I put together a blog with some of the best ideas my community had to address this issue.
How do you handle yourself and self-care after stressful interactions with the public or stakeholders? How did these ideas work for you?
Director of Web and Social Media Services for the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Russel defines and leads TranBC and @DriveBC in social customer care, emergency communications and public engagement. Sharing his thoughts through his blog, Relationships at Work, he has been internationally recognized as a top customer service expert by Microsoft and Hootsuite and in Forbes and Huffington Post. Follow Russel on LinkedIn. and Huffington Post. Follow Russel on LinkedIn.
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