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Old 06-02-2012, 09:03 AM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Yelm, Washington
Posts: 8,959

Good communication will probably always be the most challenging, and the most necessary, part of any relationship, be it a mere online relationship with a stranger you've never met, or a real-life relationship with a poly partner. Perfect communication would probably take me millions of years to learn, assuming it could ever be perfect. I am conscious of my own lack of know-how, and try to improve how I communicate with each new word I say or write. Sometimes I succeed in these improvements, sometimes not.

As someone with an admittedly thin skin, I tend to be very self-conscious about what kind of impact my words might have on others. If I had a thick skin, I might not be so sympathetic towards thin-skinned people. But my handicap forces me to be as sensitive towards others as possible. And yet I still often fail, as I haven't mastered the ability to make myself clearly understood. (Or perhaps some would say my clarity is redundant.)

I come from a relatively gentle forum, Polyamory Percolations, which has a fairly tight set of user guidelines. I knew, when I read the User Guidelines, that I was in for a rougher ride if I started posting here (and reading the responses to my posts). I took that into account when I started posting. When I got the "tough love" treatment (from several posters), I accepted it. I knew the risks I had taken. I accepted the distress I experienced as part of the experience I'd asked for. I was responsible for whatever effect it had on me. So I got over it and moved on (pretty much).

But since forthright-versus-solicitous is being debated with respect to what kind of locution is appropriate for which threads, I'll cast my vote for a more gentle tone (and choice of words) in threads in general (not singling out any thread in particular, as some threads arguably do merit some tough talk). It always strikes me as sad that the physical distance across internet forums separates us psychologically as well. If we could just get along, I often say to myself.

I know the User Guidelines don't support my position, but we shouldn't have to be "forced to be nice" anyway. It's something that should come from the heart.

I believe we're all beginners when it comes to communication. We can all learn to do better. When I post, even if it's about something mundane I've "heard a thousand times," I try to remember that what I am posting is going to be out there for all the world to see. No matter what the Guidelines say, I want to contribute to a gentler online community. It's just my personal opinion, my personal goal, and I wouldn't presume to act as if I have some right to tell others what to do. If you're posting within the Guidelines, you're in the clear.

But here are the quotes that really shined for me when I read this thread:

"I have to remind myself that attacking people in no way whatsoever makes them more likely to hear you."
-- AnnabelMore, Post #1
"It can be challenging to hear 'negative' feedback even in a PM, but it can become almost impossible if three or four (or more) people chime in and newbies end up feeling totally dominated in a public forum. The words shaming, bullying and attacking come to mind, and none of those are very conducive to growth."
-- BaggagePatrol, Post #11
"To me encouragement and listening goes a lot farther than advice or assumption ever does ..."
-- BaggagePatrol, Post #11
"Say what you feel needs to be said, absolutely, but there's a huge difference between, 'I think you really need to take a look at your situation and the potential damage it could cause, because is this what I'm worried about:' and, 'Oh my god, are you fucking kidding me?? You can't be serious. I feel sick just reading this.' (Both of those 'quotes' are made up by me, as examples. They are not actual quotes of anything.) The latter is about as helpful as coddling, which is not at all."
-- ThatGirlInGray, Post #41
"So in redpepper's words, 'We make people work on their shit' is only supposed to apply to things like shucking off the societal expectations of monogamy, jealousy, etc.? We can't apply it to written communication?"
-- ThatGirlInGray, Post #47
"I feel it's rather ridiculous to claim that asking people to work on how they communicate is unreasonable, especially on a *relationships* forum where we espouse over and over how important communication is!"
-- ThatGirlInGray, Post #49
In general, if you can think of two ways to say something, and both ways get the point across, then, consider using the softer way. Especially in the cases of beginners who are "getting hit from all sides." It's the question of what's not enough, or what's too much. I know it's a judgment call. I just ask people (any who might be willing to hear me on this) to err on the side of kindness, and to consider a wider range of possibilities in how things can be said -- and what kind of locution is really going to be the most effective/helpful. A little imagination can go a long way.

I guess that's all I have to say for now.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"
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