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“Say This, Not That”: Dr. Mo gives communication tips to TikTok

Have you ever disagreed with a romantic partner, friend, or family member and said something that wasn’t beneficial? We all have made the mistake of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. If only we had some resource at our disposal that could let us know what to say instead of something we know could worsen the situation. 

Thankfully, Mostafa Aniss, a professor in the communication department and a Pacific alumnus, has created a following on TikTok doing just that. With over 360,000 followers, @thedrmoshow dedicates its TikTok page to helping its followers by “saying this, instead of that.” 

“Most relationship and communication scholars agree on how toxic defensiveness can be. It’s a relationship killer, so the original concept of the series was called ‘Reducing Defensiveness,’ ” said Aniss. 

Offering tips on TikTok

Dr. Mo began his series to help people reduce defensiveness within their relationships and asked participants to comment on their help with rephrasing. 

“You don’t know what to expect; it is random when you go viral,” said Aniss. “After about a month on TikTok, I gained 80,000 followers, and about 91% were women. So, I made another video that addressed this, which got over 4 million views.” 

The video that propelled @thedrmoshow was a stitch of another creator’s (@_sommerandomdude_1’s) video where the original creator stated, “men do not care enough about how they say something.” Dr. Mo responded with a video that acknowledged that most of his followers are women, but he hoped more men would follow his account and become more interested in eliciting compassion and empathy instead of defensiveness. 

That video hit the algorithm right and now has 4.8 million views, and over 500,000 likes. 

After Aniss posted that video, his followers grew dramatically, from 80,000 to well over 350,000, and his followers are now about 60% female and 40% male. 

Another popular video of Dr. Mo’s came at the request of a follower who asked how they could better say, “You need to relax.” Dr. Mo’s advice was, “instead of saying you need to relax, say… I am in this with you. What should we do next?” That video has over 155,000 views, and the comments are overwhelmingly positive. 

“I just want to make sure that what I am posting is something I am proud of that’s adding value to the app and the community,” said Aniss.  

Another video that Dr. Mo has pinned on his account is a tutorial on “3 rules you can follow to reduce defensiveness in your conversations”. They are 1. avoid using the word “you,” 2. replace the word “you” with “I feel,” and 3. exchange “you” with “we, me, this, I”.  

Say this, not that

Dr. Mo is taking common (and problematic) phrases that people often use within interpersonal communication, and helping his viewers better understand how to effectively communicate while reducing toxicity and defensiveness. Followers have even reached out to him for private consultations.  

Dr. Mo said he got on the app because his younger brother encouraged him.  

“My brother told me that if I was serious about my entertainment career, I needed to get on TikTok. So, I would’ve never started if it weren’t for him,” said Aniss. 

@thedrmoshow has overwhelming support from his followers on TikTok, with the comments being primarily positive. “It’s been very, very humbling. I did not see this coming. And I’m just like trying to appreciate the moment,” said Aniss. 

In addition to his excellent interpersonal skills and advice, Dr. Mo also does close-up magic using playing cards, which he hopes to incorporate into his videos one day. 

Check out @thedrmoshow on TikTok

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