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BGMarc
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« Topic Start: September 05, 2008, 12:00:11 pm »

I'm always fascinated by the ways that people resolve conflict in negotiated spaces like teams and web forums. I figured that since so many people here have participated quite widely in these sorts of spaces I'd ask you all what you think is most important in agreeing to play with others and in patching things back together before someone gets hurt?
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« Reply #1: September 05, 2008, 12:14:49 pm »

I'm always fascinated by the ways that people resolve conflict in negotiated spaces like teams and web forums. I figured that since so many people here have participated quite widely in these sorts of spaces I'd ask you all what you think is most important in agreeing to play with others and in patching things back together before someone gets hurt?

Well on web forums, I think ignoring a poster that pisses you off helps.  I don't think it would work well in real life because there are some you MUST interact with.

I haven't used that feature here, but there are quite a few cases where I thought of using it.  I just find that I can ignore people without it.  Plus the only person that came close to getting that doesn't seem active at the moment Tongue
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« Reply #2: September 05, 2008, 01:19:21 pm »

I'm always fascinated by the ways that people resolve conflict in negotiated spaces like teams and web forums. I figured that since so many people here have participated quite widely in these sorts of spaces I'd ask you all what you think is most important in agreeing to play with others and in patching things back together before someone gets hurt?

Related to Mel's answer, I think knowing when to take a break and let things cool off is really important.  It's so easy, especially if you're online at the same time as the person you're tussling with, for things to spiral out of control really quickly before you know what hit you.  It's important to keep an eye on yourself and back off if you see yourself getting out of control.  (Trying to make the other person back off is not going to be useful.  Actually, it'll just make things worse...)  And then you have to stick to it, too.  Not "just one more message"--you have to just walk away.

I think it's also important to have the ability to recognize that what you're reading is not necessarily what was written.  So many people would be so much less pissed off if they just tried reading the same exact sentence that upset them in a kinder tone of voice.  And gave the author the benefit of the doubt.  I don't think people intend to be half as insulting as they are a lot of times; it's just that nonverbal cues don't translate to plain text (not even with emoticons) and things wind up sounding worse than they are.

Also, I think it's important to be aware of your own responsibility.  I've seen this happen offline and on.  Person A says something, person B gets upset and says something else back, and then person B is pissed when person A takes exception.  Each feels the other is to blame, but...  they both contributed to it, whether intentionally or not, and they both need to own up to that.  If you don't want to get into an argument, then don't, you know?  No one is, presumably, holding a gun to your head and forcing you to do it.  If you do get into it, though, don't blame the other person for your involvement.  (This ties into my first point, too; I've heard people complain that they keep coming back to a thread because people keep responding, and it's like...  well, so don't reply to them then.  If you're letting it cool down, you have to let it cool down even if there are replies to you.  Don't shove it off on the other person; you made the decision to post.)  If someone is worried about someone getting hurt, quite often a good way to keep that from happening is to refrain from contributing to the problem.
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« Reply #3: September 05, 2008, 01:38:26 pm »

I'm always fascinated by the ways that people resolve conflict in negotiated spaces like teams and web forums. I figured that since so many people here have participated quite widely in these sorts of spaces I'd ask you all what you think is most important in agreeing to play with others and in patching things back together before someone gets hurt?

1) Talk about base agreements before you start - different people, communities, cultures, etc. have different ideas of how one resolves disagreements fairly: clashes here can be particularly messy, so I like spelling it out in advance.

1b) Or, if you're entering into an existing space, read the rules carefully, and spend a bunch more time observing/listening than talking for a time to get a good feel for how things work - online, I usually suggest 2-3 weeks of reading, whether that's reading and not posting much for that time, or whether that's reading back posts.

2) Practice HALT - if something upsets you, check to see whether you're hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. If one of these things is true, go do something to fix it. Come back and deal with the problem when you're doing better.

(Note: this is not grounds for ditching a difficult conversation - but reasonable people should be okay with "You know, this is hitting me really hard: I know this is important to you, but can we can come back to it later when I'm better able to discuss it fairly?" Yes, this takes some self-awareness to do, but it's a valuable skill to spot these issues in many areas of life, and worth learning.)

I sit firmly on my hands for at least 8 hours if something triggers that 'really upset' place in my head. Or I go write up my rebuttal in a totally separate program (to avoid sending it accidentally) and let it sit. By the time I come back, I'm usually far more able to be reasonable and to avoid escalation. (And I've probably come up with a couple of really good solid points that have real weight to them.)

3) Take steps to develop a community culture where behaving decently towards other people (by which I don't mean 'friendly' - I mean not digressing into unrelated insults, detractions, deliberately aiming at sore points or old issues, etc.) is encouraged and to some extent rewarded.

Exactly how you do this depends on the set-up - this is something that it's actually a lot easier to do with either a heirarchical structure if the leadership is on top of it, or in a group with a solid core of active participants who all buy into it together. It's a *lot* harder to do in a setting where people who aren't very familiar with each other are all coming together for the first time in a consensus sort of setting.

Figure out some way - and this can be very simple praise and positive attention - to recognise people who help maintain the atmosphere you want. This sounds really cynical and mechanical, but really - you will be in good shape and have a resiliant system. When I say 'praise', I don't mean anything big or obvious, but a "Hey, good point, X" or "Thanks for bringing that up, Y" or "It's clear this is a big deal to you - thanks for being so even-handed in your response" can go a long way.

4) I'd recommend Suzette Haden Elgin's books on verbal self-defense to pretty much anyone - not only will they help you identify when things are starting to go downhill, but they'll give you ways to avoid that. Many of the tips work very well, and help defuse things without someone who's trying to make trouble being able to get a good grip. (she has a number out with different kinds of focus: pick whatever makes sense to you.)

5) Be aware that almost all communities will eventually attract at least one person who is primarily interested in making trouble. I'm fond of Teresa Neilsen Hayden's theory that *one* of these people is not a problem, necessarily, but that two is deadly (because they will play off of each other.) These are trolls.

There are different philosophies on dealing with them - but have one that's been field tested in a similar group/community/culture and where it's worked. Also, expect to deal with it periodically: prompt action *limits* these issues a lot, but the world is a big place, and new challenges will come along. Plan for that when you're figuring out moderation and leadership stuff: have a backup plan (and backup staff who are comfortable stepping up) in case of emergency, for example.

Some useful web resources:
* Teresa's comments on moderation (there are a number of others on that blog, but this hits the main points: read the comments, too): http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008856.html
* Eran's online book on trollspotting in Pagan settings - many of the comments are also applicable (or good principles) in other settings, but this is designed for coven/small groups : http://esoterica.bichaunt.org/
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« Reply #4: September 05, 2008, 01:51:09 pm »



I think it's also important to have the ability to recognize that what you're reading is not necessarily what was written.  So many people would be so much less pissed off if they just tried reading the same exact sentence that upset them in a kinder tone of voice.  And gave the author the benefit of the doubt.  I don't think people intend to be half as insulting as they are a lot of times; it's just that nonverbal cues don't translate to plain text (not even with emoticons) and things wind up sounding worse than they are.

I have such a hard time with this. I tend to really offend people without meaning to in emails and such. One time to such a degree that I made a woman in my corporate office cry! People also don't realize that each word carries a connotation, and even if the message doesn't have any verbal clues, it has clues in the vocabulary. If you use aggressive words, like I do sometimes, you can really offend without meaning to.
As a result, if I ever read anything that is deeply insulting or hurtful I always take an overnight to think about what I read and really think if the person meant it in the way I took it. I can't recommend that enough.
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« Reply #5: September 05, 2008, 02:16:59 pm »

People also don't realize that each word carries a connotation, and even if the message doesn't have any verbal clues, it has clues in the vocabulary. If you use aggressive words, like I do sometimes, you can really offend without meaning to.

This is true, but a lot of the offense taken seems to be a consequence of some readers expecting a homogenized language and having no respect for grammatical flourishes that make an individual's written style as distinct as their spoken style.  I'll occasionally write in an elevated tone simply because I like using uncommon or beautiful words (as I put it to someone who once misread me - I like throwing in $5 words whenever possible because my vocabulary isn't poor)...to someone who hasn't read me enough to realize it's just my style, I can easily come off as a prick because of this.  I don't mind so much, though...in the sea of disemvoweled tripe that is the vast majority of internet speak, there must be a few beacons of readability Cheesy.
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« Reply #6: September 05, 2008, 03:05:36 pm »

If you use aggressive words, like I do sometimes, you can really offend without meaning to.

I can generally avoid being offended by such if I give myself time for a simple mental/verbal semantic exercise.  I make three copies, in my head or on paper, depending on time-of-reaction constraints.  One is with aggressive language intact or made worse, one is with all such words given the 'nicest' possible substitutions, and the third is with all words exchanged with neutral cognates.

If there is no way to insert a good or neutral variant, then I go ahead and take offense.  If I want to be annoying I respond clearly to the 'sugared-up' version.  And if I'm interested in keeping the communication going, I respond to the neutral version with neutrality of my own.

I think of it as results-oriented communication, and I'm pretty good at not having accidents of understanding.  Not perfect, of course, and sometimes I intentionally respond to nice or neutral language with aggressive, but that is a character flaw, not an accident. Cheesy

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« Reply #7: September 06, 2008, 02:38:46 am »

1) Talk about base agreements before you start - different people, communities, cultures, etc. have different ideas of how one resolves disagreements fairly: clashes here can be particularly messy, so I like spelling it out in advance.

1b) Or, if you're entering into an existing space, read the rules carefully, and spend a bunch more time observing/listening than talking for a time to get a good feel for how things work - online, I usually suggest 2-3 weeks of reading, whether that's reading and not posting much for that time, or whether that's reading back posts.

2) Practice HALT - if something upsets you, check to see whether you're hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. If one of these things is true, go do something to fix it. Come back and deal with the problem when you're doing better.

(Note: this is not grounds for ditching a difficult conversation - but reasonable people should be okay with "You know, this is hitting me really hard: I know this is important to you, but can we can come back to it later when I'm better able to discuss it fairly?" Yes, this takes some self-awareness to do, but it's a valuable skill to spot these issues in many areas of life, and worth learning.)

I sit firmly on my hands for at least 8 hours if something triggers that 'really upset' place in my head. Or I go write up my rebuttal in a totally separate program (to avoid sending it accidentally) and let it sit. By the time I come back, I'm usually far more able to be reasonable and to avoid escalation. (And I've probably come up with a couple of really good solid points that have real weight to them.)

3) Take steps to develop a community culture where behaving decently towards other people (by which I don't mean 'friendly' - I mean not digressing into unrelated insults, detractions, deliberately aiming at sore points or old issues, etc.) is encouraged and to some extent rewarded.

Exactly how you do this depends on the set-up - this is something that it's actually a lot easier to do with either a heirarchical structure if the leadership is on top of it, or in a group with a solid core of active participants who all buy into it together. It's a *lot* harder to do in a setting where people who aren't very familiar with each other are all coming together for the first time in a consensus sort of setting.

Figure out some way - and this can be very simple praise and positive attention - to recognise people who help maintain the atmosphere you want. This sounds really cynical and mechanical, but really - you will be in good shape and have a resiliant system. When I say 'praise', I don't mean anything big or obvious, but a "Hey, good point, X" or "Thanks for bringing that up, Y" or "It's clear this is a big deal to you - thanks for being so even-handed in your response" can go a long way.

4) I'd recommend Suzette Haden Elgin's books on verbal self-defense to pretty much anyone - not only will they help you identify when things are starting to go downhill, but they'll give you ways to avoid that. Many of the tips work very well, and help defuse things without someone who's trying to make trouble being able to get a good grip. (she has a number out with different kinds of focus: pick whatever makes sense to you.)

5) Be aware that almost all communities will eventually attract at least one person who is primarily interested in making trouble. I'm fond of Teresa Neilsen Hayden's theory that *one* of these people is not a problem, necessarily, but that two is deadly (because they will play off of each other.) These are trolls.

There are different philosophies on dealing with them - but have one that's been field tested in a similar group/community/culture and where it's worked. Also, expect to deal with it periodically: prompt action *limits* these issues a lot, but the world is a big place, and new challenges will come along. Plan for that when you're figuring out moderation and leadership stuff: have a backup plan (and backup staff who are comfortable stepping up) in case of emergency, for example.

Some useful web resources:
* Teresa's comments on moderation (there are a number of others on that blog, but this hits the main points: read the comments, too): http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008856.html
* Eran's online book on trollspotting in Pagan settings - many of the comments are also applicable (or good principles) in other settings, but this is designed for coven/small groups : http://esoterica.bichaunt.org/


I don't usually get offended by what people say, period, let alone online.  However, when I'm already in a bad mood, I'm not thinking at all clearly.  Thus attempting to do what you have posted, for me, is impossible.  I am not thinking well enough to even realize I am not in my right mind.  Which is something that happened to me recently in another topic.  However, afterwards, i usually realize it, and try to correct it as well as apologizing to those I have offended.  I don't often have a bad temper, but when it is elevated, I get blinded by it.  Even making sure to avoid potentially problematic situations means nothing, because at that point, I don't even realize the potential for problems.

And on a lighter note, one of the biggest things in my life at the moment that has been causing me stress is soon to be lifted, so yall will likely start seeing less of my purely argumentative side (debates and discussions are still to be expected...).   Grin
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« Reply #8: September 06, 2008, 08:24:36 am »



Please cut long quoted text to the minimum needed to clearly show what you are replying to. Quoting entire long messages unnecessarily just wastes database space.
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« Reply #9: September 06, 2008, 08:53:39 am »

I don't usually get offended by what people say, period, let alone online.  However, when I'm already in a bad mood, I'm not thinking at all clearly.  Thus attempting to do what you have posted, for me, is impossible.  I am not thinking well enough to even realize I am not in my right mind.  Which is something that happened to me recently in another topic.  However, afterwards, i usually realize it, and try to correct it as well as apologizing to those I have offended.  I don't often have a bad temper, but when it is elevated, I get blinded by it.  Even making sure to avoid potentially problematic situations means nothing, because at that point, I don't even realize the potential for problems.

I know it's not easy - I'm pretty even-tempered by nature, and I have my moments of issues with it.

That said, being aware of it is a skill I use all the time, and it's hugely repaid the time and focus it took to learn to be aware. It comes up at work, in Pagan settings, in other hobbies, in random conversations online.

Stuff that helps with the skill development that I've found:

- Check in with yourself every day or maybe twice a day. Look at your known stressors - did you get enough sleep? Have you eaten appropriately? [1] What's the stress level look like in your life? Are you finding yourself worrying over things? Make a checklist of the stuff that you know stresses you, and run through it.

- One of the things my teachers trained me to do was to do a self-inventory before and after ritual (and regularly, in general). Where was I holding tension? What was my emotional state like? Did I feel grounded, or shaky?  Again, I've got a little mental checklist I run through, and I look particularly at places my body tends to hold tension, because if those are tense, the rest of me is off balance in some way. You do before and after so you can do a comparison.

- Really brief journalling, especially for 3 months at the beginning of trying to work on this. By which I mean "2-3 sentences per day" How you slept, how you feel the day went, if you had any moments where you blew up or really wanted to, and what the trigger was. This is enough that you can go back and see patterns, but doesn't take much time. You need 2-3 months, because it's worth checking for hormonal cycles, what happens to you after weekends or special occasions, etc. and 3 months will usually give you enough data to figure out if it's worth going on with.

- Getting feedback from a couple of trusted friends/spouse/etc. as you try stuff - they will often have a good sense of which things generally help you, and they may pinpoint triggers for you that you hadn't noticed. (For example, my friends pointed out at one point that you can tell how stressed I am by how time-sensitive and schedule oriented I am. I'm always prone to scheduling, but I get more rigid about it the more stress is in my life. Yay, security blankets.)

- I talk about sleep a lot because sleep is often a really good indicator of overall stress (and lack of sleep will put a serious burden on your body). But it's also one of my big triggers for medical foo - my propensity for both migraines and asthma issues goes up when I don't get enough sleep, and that adds a major layer of stress and other problematic stuff to my life. Sleep may not be your one-big-touchstone, but figuring out what is and keeping an eye on it has major payoff, I've found.

[1] For about a year I had semi-regular meltdowns over small stuff on the weekends. It took me a while to figure out that because of some complicated logistical stuff while living with my now ex-husband, I was tending not to eat fruits and vegetables after lunch on Friday: sometime around Sunday noon, my body would be trying to get my attention any way possible, and that included a melt-down. They weren't huge, but they were over *stupid* little things, and fixing them was easy.
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« Reply #10: September 06, 2008, 11:57:44 am »

I don't usually get offended by what people say, period, let alone online.  However, when I'm already in a bad mood, I'm not thinking at all clearly.  Thus attempting to do what you have posted, for me, is impossible.  I am not thinking well enough to even realize I am not in my right mind.  Which is something that happened to me recently in another topic.  However, afterwards, i usually realize it, and try to correct it as well as apologizing to those I have offended.  I don't often have a bad temper, but when it is elevated, I get blinded by it.  Even making sure to avoid potentially problematic situations means nothing, because at that point, I don't even realize the potential for problems.

This is me as well. When I was having a really hard time with depression last fall, I was pretty cranky, and very negative in my approach to nearly all my communication, especially on the internet. Really, I was *looking for fights-and I'm a pretty good manifester, so I found them Roll Eyes. And related to Jennett's post, how my body is doing, generally, has a huge effect on my ability to interpret the words of others accurately and communicate clearly. If I'm eating right, exercising, attending to my spiritual practice and have a constructive creative outlet, I tend to be a nice person. If I'm not, I'm not  Sad
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« Reply #11: September 06, 2008, 07:43:02 pm »



Jennet

Thank you for both off your posts. They've been extremely interesting and thought provoking. I think I will take good advice from them into my future.
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