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Re: discouraging discussion styles - any cure?


Gerfried Fuchs <rhonda@deb.at> writes:

>  it happens every now and then, people assume bad faith in mails from
> others and call their action silly and active tries to sabotage, and
> there are also people who fight for their right to behave like assholes
> and belittle scathingly against people that wish for a better
> communication style.

There are a few ways one can do in situations like this, which one to
pursue, largely depends on the situation and the people involved. In
every case, however, it is a very important step to maintain a clear
head and not fall for the trap, so to say. So a crucial step is to try
and calm down both parties, either publicly, or in private (or both, as

>From my experience, a large number of name-calling stem from
misunderstandings and mis-communications. Both can be fixed, and a third
party who steps in, and the others can throw the stones at him has
remarkably good effects, as the opposing parties do not have to talk
directly to each other, and the mediator can calm them both down, and
afterwards, gently guide them to an agreement and apologies.

I've seen that work, had stones thrown at me, didn't mind. I've seen
others do it, worked out nicely in the end.

However, this doesn't always work, as this is best done when the
discussion can be taken private, to discourage others from throwing yet
more fuel onto the fire.

On the other hand, I do not believe in a flame-war-free world,
either. We do need heated arguments from time to time, and I see nothing
wrong with that, as long as it remains civilised and does not resort to
name-calling and an insult duel (unless it's in monkey island style ;).

>  Besides that I would expect from a DPL candidate to lead by example
> (hope we can agree on that part), what else do you think you could do to
> discorage such behavior and encourage people, in cases of doubt, to
> rather simply ask how something might have been meant than assume bad
> faith in the others?

The best way is to lead by example, indeed. But it's something that
everyone else can do, too, not just the DPL.

Sometimes this might mean ignoring a few harsh mails, and continue from
a saneer point, by asking for clarification, if one party meant this or
that instead of what the other understood. Then, if so need be, in case
the falming part of the thread continues, one can post there, pointing
out that "hey, how about we stop bickering and ASK first, before
shooting?" might just have more desirable results.

Nevertheless, this is a difficult topic, as pretty much each and every
case needs to be handled differently. And unfortunately, I do not have
ready made plans, nor cookbooks for the most common situations.

One other thing I'd like to mention is that sadly, there will always be
voices that try to disrupt, and generally act as complete jerks. There
will always be cases where we can't teach them to express their opinions
in a less hurtful fashion. In those cases, we need to ignore these, and
not let them get under our skin. This is an even more difficult task, as
this must not look like we're allowing such behaviour.


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