Facebook – What NOT to Say to your “Friends”


Last week, I talked about what is the most appropriate use of Facebook.  Bottom line: Be Friendly 😉 

Today, let’s look at another aspect of Facebook… the dark side.  Duhn Duhn Duhn…

We often use Facebook as a platform to voice our opinions about what’s wrong in the world.  We are all capable of tearing apart an argument or being frustrated when someone is mean, annoying, funny-looking, too (insert your pet-peeve here).  But what’s the point of focusing so much energy on the short-comings of others?  If you genuinely care about your “Friends” then the point might be to affect change in their attitudes and behavior.

Looking back at Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” we can take some wonderful principles that will help us “Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment.”  When you see a “Friend” being steered to what you consider to be the wrong way, maybe saying, “You are so wrong” or correcting grammar (my #1 Facebook pet-peeve of all time) or a little joke about his or her status is not the way to go.

So, when you see your FB Friends making remarks you don’t agree with or would like to positively impact their life… here’s some guidelines to use.  (Keeping in mind that if you find yourself typing a short novel, a phone call may be a better way to go).

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

Getting on the same page and letting your Friend know you are on their side is helpful.  Don’t use flattery or empty words.  If you can’t think of something nice to begin your correction, then maybe you don’t need to say anything at all, hey?

2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

This is an interesting one.  I am not very graceful at this.  I usually see something that looks like a spade, and then I say, “Hey, look a spade!”  When it comes to relationships, however, the direct approach is not always the most effective.  Often, it is best to help someone discover their mistake on their own.  I frequently get so excited that I actually see the error, that I call out the answer without raising my hand.  On Facebook, this interaction may look something like this:

Friend Status Update: “I think it’s so bazaar that I’m turning 30 this year!  Time flies when you are having fun!”

Your Comment: “Me too!  Let’s throw a bazaar to celebrate our milestone!”

Friend Comment Reply: “@You – Whoops, I meant bizarre!  But it’s both!  Let’s do it!  I’ll bring the Champagne!”

This might be an instance where saying nothing might be better than saying anything, however, those who can’t help themselves, might find more encouraging ways to correct through this type of interaction. 

3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

My greatest frustration right now is people who are critical!  AND it’s because I am critical.  It’s just not helpful to me or the relationships I’m trying to cultivate.  If I can see myself honestly, then, I can tell you where my own short-comings lie.  I really struggle to remember my own weaknesses, but am so quick to find fault with others.  Sigh.

4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

This one seems pretty cut and dry.  But, I am always so quick to listen to myself talk that I don’t pay enough attention to where my friend is coming from, I mean REALLY coming from before I barge ahead with solutions and unthoughtful anticdotes.  Asking questions is 1. a better way to understand where your friend is coming from 2. gives you time to process the real issue at hand 3. shows your friend that you have a genuine interest in what she is saying.  So, instead of waiting for your turn to talk/type, step back and genuinely listen and then take your time (nothing wrong with sleeping on it) before responding.

5. Let the other person save face.

Saving “face” is a wonderful custom that we can learn very well through our neighbors in Asia.  For instance, you don’t have to say “I told you so.”  You don’t have to get the last word.  If your Friend finds out that he or she was, in fact, wrong, then just leave it alone.  Let her walk away and “save face.”

6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

I’ve heard it said in management and in parenting, that for every critical comment made you need two positive or uplifting comments to balance it out.  This, perhaps, is where having a real-life relationship with someone will come in handy. 

Facebook should be used to connect and enhance our relationships.  Not as the entire relationship.  Remember, you don’t really know a person if you only interact with her through Facebook even if you were besties in 4th Grade.  You only know the part she wants you to know.  So, you might not be able to “praise every improvement” because you don’t see her enough in real life to notice.

7. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

Think about how you can be loving to your friend.  How can you build her up?

Usually, I see people debating politics and religion through novella-style commenting.  Usually all parties end up frustrated and resentful.  Using a loving approach can help ease the blow, if you find that you must correct.  However, remember that no one ever regretted something she didn’t say on Facebook;-)

What do you think?  How should we use Facebook?   What’s okay?  What’s not okay?  Spill it…


Joy is the Co-founder of Scottsdale Moms Blog and absolutely loves living in Scottsdale with her hubby Kevin and their daughter Reagan (born August 2009).  She is a lover of nature, a research analyst on all things related to life, a home manager, a crafty art-eest, part time baby sitter, Chief Marketing Officer for Cactus CrossFit, mommy, daughter, friend.  You are always welcome to e-mail Joy at [email protected].


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