What makes a good community moderator is emotional intelligence. What eventually breaks a community moderator is empathy. How can we reconcile the two?
Burnout is on the rise. This happens in online and in person communities. There is a level a responsibility that one feels when starting a community. After all, a good Community Moderator has both emotional intelligence and empathy. That’s what drew them in the first place.
Not everyone is good with people. Their endless rants and complaints and asks can wear anyone down. But the person who is has a gift for coaching and mentoring thrives in these situations.
We often wonder if those people think of anyone but themselves. It may be that they don’t.
According to Dictionary.com emotional intelligence is defined as: “skill in perceiving, understanding, and managing emotions and feelings.” A high emotional intelligence makes us self-aware. Empathy makes us others-aware.
Some people have a difficult time thinking about the feelings of others. They seem to be distant and off-putting. Then there is us. We’re the empaths. We feel everything — too much. We stop listening to the news because we cry at every cancer diagnosis.
Dictionary.com defines empathy as “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.”
Somewhere in between is the perfect empathy level for community moderators. They feel for others, and they want to help, but they keep their own feelings at bay.
A good Community Moderator has both emotional intelligence and empathy. This allows them to both relate to the people in the community, feel their feelings, and manage them in a good way. This includes diffusing trolls and assuaging complainers.
But at what cost? Community mentors and moderators give and give and give. If they aren’t receiving, they get to a point where they are just done. Done. So done, they never want to return.
It can be even worse, however. Facebook found that moderators to ban extreme content causes mental health issues.
Repeated exposure to extreme content can lead to ‘secondary trauma’, which is a condition similar to PTSD, but the witness is looking at images of what happened rather than being traumatized themselves.The Guardian
With a growing community, mental health of moderators is an important issue. It needs to be acknowledged and managed.
Moderate in Shifts
It can be quite a challenge to ignore notifications if you are the type of person who feels they have to respond. Week on, week off might be a good way to manage moderator burnout. Even better might be month on month off. We all need breaks.
TwoHat.com even suggests allowing moderators to take large breaks during the day. “Ensure that moderators switch tasks every two hours to stay fresh, focused, and diligent.”
Manage Your Community Your Way
We need moderators in our communities. Let’s give them the mental breaks they need. You have all the tools you need to engage your community. Create your community your way. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t start today.