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Debummerfication: Encouraging Authenticity Through Attitude Management
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Debummerfication: Encouraging Authenticity Through Attitude Management


2013 Dalton Institute on College Student Values presentation

2013 Dalton Institute on College Student Values presentation

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  • I am not a ray of constant sunshine- lost and late, horribleAnd I don’t want to turn Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr,
  • Despite a vocal set of supporters, what feature has Facebook refused to add to its bevy of updates?
  • There are struggles with this approach, though:Countering someone's negativity with your positivity doesn't work because it's argumentative. People don't like to be emotionally contradicted and if you try to convince them that they shouldn't feel something, they'll only feel it more stubbornly. And if you're a leader trying to be positive, it comes off even worse because you'll appear out of touch and aloof to the reality that people are experiencing.The other instinctive approach — confronting someone's negativity with your own negativity — doesn't work because it's additive. Your negative reaction to their negative reaction simply adds fuel to the fire. Negativity breeds negativity.(How to Respond to Negativity, HBR)
  • 1. Understand how they feel and validate it. This might be hard because it could feel like you're reinforcing their negative feelings. But you're not. You're not agreeing with them or justifying their negativity. You're simply showing them that you understand how they feel. 2. Find a place to agree with them. You don't have to agree with everything they've said, but, if you can, agree with some of what they're feeling. If you share some of their frustrations, let them know which. 3. Find out what they are positive about and reinforce it. This doesn't mean trying to convince them to be positive. It means giving attention to whatever positive feelings they do show — and chances are they will have shown some because it's unusual to find people who are purely negative. If they are purely negative, then make sure they see you supporting others who have shown positivity. The idea is to give positive attention to positive feeling. And to offer concrete hope. It's concrete because it's based on actual positive feelings people already have, rather than harping on positive feelings you think they should have.
  • Tumblr sites such as What Should We Call Student Affairs, Admissions Problems, and institutional memes offer a means to express negativity with a modicum of anonymity. But when some discuss their meme being posted via social media, that anonymity is, needless to say, lost!
  • ThoughtCatalog quote:“it’s not so easy to write when you’re happy. Not because you have less feelings or feelings about those feelings, or because your happy feelings are any less worthy of being written about than your sad feelings, but simply because being happy makes you want to do rather than respond.”When you’re sad, one of your first instincts will often be analysis — why do I feel this way? What is actually happening here? How can I make myself feel better? And in turn this analysis becomes your fingers tap-tap-tapping on the keyboard…When you’re happy: you don’t care why…Whatever it is that’s making you happy, you just want to enjoy it — you certainly don’t want to hole yourself up in a dank, windowless room writing moving things about your feelings, you want to be out FEELING THEM. You don’t want to talk; you want to do. You don’t want to reflect; you want to
  • Physical: headaches, stomachaches, high blood pressureNeurological: more than 30 minutes of sustained negativity peels neurons away from the hippocampusMental: overexposure to negativity can “rub off”, leading others to feel negatively about their own lives
  • “When I looked at articles shared on Facebook, I found that positivity is the second most "shareable" linguistic content type. And negativity is the least shareable”.
  • “Incessant complaining or persistent negativity can send potential employers running once they’ve found you, because they don’t want someone with that kind of attitude coming in to their work environment to spread dissent among the other employees.Think about it: If someone you’re connected to could possibly line you up with a job or refer you, would they if they see you’re constantly negative in posts or tweets?”-Justin Thompson, The WorkBuzz by CareerBuilder
  • From the blog The Eternal Student:Just a few days ago I posted a link to Facebook which claimed that the Aurora Colorado shooting was part of a government conspiracy, making some kind of incredulous comment about the ridiculousness of this, and many other claims regarding this tragedy. I have since taken down my post and could not find article, but just Google it–you’ll be SHOCKED!. Why did I take down my post? It was because of what [a friend] tweeted.The bad may only be 10%, but what percentage is sharing that information, if even to poke fun or make disparaging remarks about it? I certainly am, which is why I took down that Facebook post–why am I adding to the doom and gloom that so many people recognize in the world today? Life is not rainbows and puppy dogs, but it also isn’t conspiracy theories and bigotry. maybe there is something to be said about adding only positive energy to the world and getting positive energy back.Do I think this will be an entirely new way of life for me and I’ll never be negative again? No; it would be inviting failure. I can lessen the amount of negativity I put into the world. It’s already there, why do I need to spread it any further? And maybe,  just MAYBE, I will become a happier person for it.To sum up- the goal of debummerfication is not to turn social media into a blinding ray of sunshine that drowns out reality. Rather, it is to understand that life can be altered based on outlook, and to express the good and the bad.
  • Behave in a way that reflects your values. Participate in service, speak of the values and guiding principles that are important to you, and let students and fellow coworkers know your expectations.The Good Work Project: a research project from several years ago that examined empirically professional life in America. “Good work” is defined as work that is excellent in quality and ethically responsible- work that any society should desire and honor across the professional landscape (cite Howard Gardner’s essay in Declining by Degrees, “Beyond Markets and Individuals”)Mission: is your concern for students and setting a good example consistent with the mission of your institution? Emmanuel- scholarship and education for all, service to the community, and intellectual inquiry.Mirror Test, Personal Version: “If our efforts were fully described on the first page of The New York Times, would we be touched with pride or wracked with regret? And if we are not satisfied with the current portrait, what can we do to improve it and how can we judge whether we have succeeded?Mirror Test, Profession-wide: Consider what is happening in the profession. Even if you are persoanlly meeting the standards of an excellent and ethical higher education, what are the implications if other institutions (or even other areas in the same institution) are falling short? Per Moliere, “you are responsible not only for what you do, but what you fail to do.”
  • Ed posted about a student who openly complained on Twitter about how the institution was horrible, she hated it, and no one was helpful. He reached out to find the source of the frustration, offered to help, and the student not only thanked him and vocally reversed her anger about the institution, but she took to her Twitter profile to retract her earlier statements- unprompted.Our ability to represent our institution is powerful, and social media gives us a powerful venue to do so.


  • 1. BackgroundThe nature of social media has gone frombeing one to share triumphs and dailyactivities, to an increasingly negativelandscape.Social media wasn’t designed for this!Facebook “dislike” button
  • 2. How Do You Respond?Approaching the situation head-onHide or mute the post/comment/posterUnfriending
  • 3. Some Employ Perspective States the intentions of the author
  • 4. Others ActivelyEncourage Positivity
  • 5. But Authenticity Means Realism Operative word: “sometimes”
  • 6. We’re Not WithoutBlame…
  • 7. Why Is It So Easyto Be NegativeOnline?
  • 8. What Are The Effects?
  • 9. Multiple Effects of TooMuch Negativity
  • 10. How Do Others Feel?
  • 11. Effects on the SocialMedia Job SearchThe top reasons that employers rejected candidates had to do withcontent found on their social media profiles, with the top 5 reasonsbeing:1. Lied about their qualifications (13 percent)2. Demonstrated poor communications skills (11 percent)3. Posted negative comments about a previous employer (11 percent)4. Posted inappropriate photos/comments (11 percent each)5. Made discriminatory comments (10 percent)
  • 12. Effects on the SocialMedia Job Search
  • 13. But Again, We’re NotWhitewashing!
  • 14. The Tide Is Turning…
  • 15. So How Can We Help?The ARMS Model:A- ActR- RespondM- ModelS- Show
  • 16. A- We Can ActThree considerations for doing “good work”from the Good Work Project:1. Mission2. Mirror Test, Personal Version3. Mirror Test, Profession-wide
  • 17. R- We Can Respond Use social media to create a relationship! Affirm and praise positive commentary Study abroad acceptance Inquire and offer to help when negative thoughts are expressed, especially as they pertain to the institution Ed Cabellon, Bridgewater State
  • 18. M- We Can Model Use your own social media profile to authentically present yourself If you allow students to “friend” or “follow” you, be honest about yourself, in both good times and bad- show them what constructively expressing a negative thought can look like Mind the boundaries that must exist between students and staff!
  • 19. S- We Can Show Embrace an attitude that allows for vulnerability Yes, we’re authority figures and role models, but we’re also people- students and colleagues should know that
  • 20. The Benefit of Helping“In its most transcendent expression, the invitation“can you help me?” is an invitation into the headand the hear when a person is most open toexamination, expresses a need to change, and iswilling to risk moving from old ways of being to anew level of perspective or ability.” (Komives)We have a responsibility to offer help that achievesthese initiatives, and move students to a placewhere they are ready to ask, or can accept the help.
  • 21. ReferencesBregman, Peter (2012). “How to Respond to Negativity.” Retrieved 16 Nov 2012 from http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2012/09/how-to-respond-to-negativity.htmlCabellon, Ed. “Connecting with Students, One Tweet at a Time.” The Student Affairs Collaborative. Swift Kick, 30 Aug 2009. Web. 4 Oct 2012.Gardner, Howard. “Beyond markets and individuals: A focus on educational goals.” Declining by Degree. Ed. Richard Hersh and John Merrow. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005. 97-112. Print.Komives, Susan. Foreword. Helping college students: Developing essential support skills for student affairs practice. By Reynolds. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009. xi-xvi. Print.Lencioni, Patrick. The five temptations of a CEO. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2008. Print.Medina, S. “University Compliments Pages Spread Kindness And Good Cheer” Huffington Post. 1 Dec 2012. Web. 26 Jan 2013.
  • 22. ReferencesThompson, Justin. “Negativity gets you nowhere in a social media job search.” The Work Buzz, 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2012 from http://www.theworkbuzz.com/news/negativity-gets-you-nowhere-in-a-social- media-job-search/Walter, Ekaterina. “Your Facebook fans are hiding your posts at an alarming rate.” FastCompany, 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012 from http:// www.fastcompany.com/3001871/your-facebook-fans-are-hiding-your- posts-alarming-rate utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+fastcompany %2Fheadlines+%28Fast+Company%29What Should We Call Student Affairs [blog]. Tumblr, n.d. Retrieved 18 Nov 2012 from http://whatshouldwecallstudentaffairs.tumblr.comZarrella, Dan. “Data shows positivity works better than negativity in social media”. Marketing with Mike. MikeVolpe.com, 22 Aug 2011. Web. 4 Sept 2012.Zetlin, Minda. “Listening to Complainers is bad for your brain.” Inc.com, 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012 from http://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/listening-to-complainers-is-bad-for- your-brain.html?nav=pop