“Don’t Make It Painful”
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
But the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
An online discussion is like a party or a game. People come because they want to have fun, grow, and learn about others. It takes courage to put oneself out there. It is a risk to one’s pride. That is the cost of playing.
Try to keep the entry cost low.
Otherwise people won’t want to play. Your words will either bring people in or push them out. If you want your ideas to be heard, you can’t push people away.
What makes people feel welcome? Why do they come? For the chance to be heard. It is exciting to engage your mind, to make a choice, and to say your piece. Don’t take away that joy. Meaning, don’t jump on a person too quickly, even if they are completely wrong about something. Don’t squash their interest by showing that you can disprove them in thirty seconds. They won’t come back.
Mature communicators let the other person “save face.”
The 2008 film “Ip Man” is my favorite illustration for letting others “save face.” Ip Man was a master of the Wing Chun martial arts style. To get an idea of this man’s level of talent, consider that he was the one who trained Bruce Lee. Part of Ip Man’s heroism was his great wisdom in preserving the other man’s pride. He won his matches but never gloated, even going so far as to say to another master, “Thank you for letting me win.”
Don’t lose the big picture.
A forum is not for “winning arguments.” Your words go to a person. Don’t write to impress other listeners. They are not voting on who “wins.” You probably won’t change people’s minds very often or quickly. Minds don’t turn on a dime.
The big picture: a forum is about stimulating the thought process—in yourself and in others. It is a chance to learn new views, to see how others react to your ideas, and to hone your ability to express an idea wisely.
People take a chance every time they say something. You don’t know how much of a person’s heart went into what he said. So say “thank you” early and often. Reaffirm the relationship and don’t make it painful.