“Don’t Make It Demanding”
A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
But a wise man quietly holds it back.
An immature person makes too many demands on others.
In a forum there are several things I find too demanding. You may have a different opinion. It depends on the context and the relationship. But if you think you may be too demanding—ask.
Please don’t post a five-paragraph essay on a forum.
Someone might read it, but only begrudgingly. Do it too often and people will begin to ignore everything you say. Here’s the worst case I’ve seen:
There was a forum with 20+ worship leaders participating. One young man felt the need to refute each of the other participants individually. You could count on it that every time someone posted he would respond with 800 words about where they were right and where they were wrong. Truly.
When you speak, you make a demand.
By the very act of speaking you are asserting that others should focus on you because you know something they don’t know. Let that sink in. There is a reason Job’s young friend Elihu spoke last (Job 32:4). To speak is to make a demand, so measure your words carefully.
Don’t make demanding assumptions.
Don’t assume people have read every preceding item on the forum. Maybe they skimmed. Maybe they read part of it two days ago and they don’t remember it. If you want the forum to be an inviting place, don’t tell them they need to go back and read or reread everything. That would be overly demanding.
Likewise, if you post a link to an article or video, you can’t demand that anyone read it or watch it. They didn’t come to the forum to get a homework assignment. Do post external links. But don’t try to control people.
The biggest offender: Don’t ask demanding questions.
This means: don’t ask too many questions. Group participation is a value, so ask the group a question. If you need to single out an individual for a question, make sure you don’t make it personal. Pose questions casually to leave the person a way out if they don’t want to answer.
Remember that a question is a demand.
My favorite hero here is Robert Goren of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent.” His job is to interrogate people. But he doesn’t pepper the suspect with questions. He is selective. He goes into the interrogation already knowing who did the crime. The questions are not about what he needs to know. They are about what the other person needs to go on record as saying. It’s crafty. Goren understands that you can either close people down or open them up, depending on what kind of question you ask.
Finally, don’t ask rhetorical questions.
For a variety of reasons, these are unhelpful. A rhetorical question tends to sound sarcastic, and that’s hard to pull off over social media. The reader doesn’t have much information to go on. He may think your rhetorical question is sincere, in which case he will question your intelligence. Rhetorical questions can be interpreted multiple ways, so they are the opposite of clarity.
Be plain. Be clear. Be brief. Don’t make it demanding.