To successfully manage your brand & reputation online, plus drive new qualified awareness and interest, you’re going to have to argue. But if you do it respectfully, you’ll look good, successfully get your point across, and win more followers in the process. Here are some tips.
Do your homework
You need to not only understand the issue well, but also (and possibly more importantly) understand where the other side is coming from. What’s motivating their position? What are the underlying priorities and objectives that either got them there or has them stuck there? What are the strengths & weaknesses of their argument? Having at least a high-level understanding of these dynamics will help you craft your own answer, and quite possibly address (and resolve) their issues or conflicts at the same time.
Nobody’s going to look good in a he-said-she-said, my-opinion-vs-yours argument. Someone’s got to prove they’re right, and it might as well be you. If you want to take a strong, public position, bring proof. Bring data, examples, anything that shows you know your stuff and have validation behind you.
Sit on your answer overnight (and/or have someone else read it)
Knee-jerk responses have a tendency to embed a little too much passion, too much conjecture, and too many holes for the other side to exploit. When possible, take your time to craft a solid response, sit on it overnight to make sure you feel the same way in the morning, and find a trusted partner or colleague who knows and/or shares your opinion to review your message with a critical eye.
Keep it professional
Take the high road, even (or especially) when the other side goes on the personal attack. When you respond in kind, the argument not only has little chance of getting back on track, but you’ll both lose credibility with other readers or participants.