On 12/29/11 a member was suspended from our group for the first time. Many of you may be confused about the line he crossed. The last thing we need is unarticulated anxiety that inhibits members from contributing, because they're unsure what Matt Rugar did wrong.
Groups need a safe emotional environment. When a member shares a painful personal experience, doubts, fears, or other personal vulnerabilities, he/she is giving all of us a precious gift. When another member uses that information to insult, ridicule, or attack the giving member, it's not just a betrayal of trust toward the individual. It's an attack on the group itself. If such betrayal goes unanswered, security shatters in the group. Members are reduced to superficialities, with no possibility for mutual validation. It sends a painful message, "nobody is safe here."
Matt Rugar didn't just attack Joan, when he said this, he betrayed the trust of the entire group.
Joan is still whinning about some thing that happened 4 decades ago and attacks who ever does not join her in her pity party. She goes from group to group to be martyerd.
So how does one give negative feedback without betraying trust and making others feel unsafe?
1. Qualify your criticism as your opinion or perception.
Example: (where X is an offending sexist remark)
Instead of saying "You're sexist." say,
"That sounds sexist to me."
"When he said X, I heard a sexist remark."
"To my ears that smacks of sexism." or
"I perceive X as sexist."
By qualifying what we say as our judgment, we show respect for the person. We imply that he/she could do better. We present the behavior as a mistake. We imply that we too make mistakes, from time to time, that we are equal adults. This is called making the person/behavior distinction.
When we label an offender, we imply that this bad behavior is a defining trait, that he/she is not capable of doing better, and that he/she is therefore inferior.
2. Avoid "Mind Reading", i.e. claiming to know the intent of others. Nobody knows what goes on inside the head of other people. In the example above, Matt claimed to know what goes on in Joan's head. Here again, this is easily avoided by qualifying what you say as your interpretation, your reaction, your judgment. You can say you "feel as if", or "get the impression that."
Ruth, I think so as well.
That discussion was beaten worse than a dead horse.
Doris, your comments come from some well of wisdom and I find you are worthy of trust. Are you saying we all should stop participating in this group? or that you are no longer participating? or there is another topic that holds more interest for you?
Joan, Doris said "discussion", not "group"! I assumed she was referring to "Why Do You Dislike Jesus So Much?". I've just terminated it in favor of Anger, logic, and moving on.
It is expected that every person participating in a debate should not indulge in personal offence and every person should understand where not to take personal offence. Otherwise, as I have said elswhere, taking unwarranted personal offence will become a useful tool to stop discussions.
I just started a discussion about this sort of thing...
My point being that new comers can be treated quite harshly by our atheist community....
What is your response to none rational thinking?
What are your thoughts about what we need to do as a community to effectively promote rational thought?
It seems though that this is a basic abusive behaviour thing - lists can be found on many sites.
Ruth - it is an issue that people can get offensive, abusive due to their own frustration etc...
I think that leaving people be free important - as in order to overcome our attitudes we do need to expose them before we can be challenged and educated on how better we might do it - otherwise we breed a culture of hidden things... which is festering I think, and doesn't promote education or well being and also can create a false sense of reality.
I think the answer is to allow freedom of expression, but create a culture of kindness by calling out abusive behaviour in a way that is educational - Alfie Kohn's book Unconditional Parenting is useful as he talks about perspective taking as way to gain compassion, understanding and behaviour modification.
If we know what is moral and ethical - we can have thick skin and deal with abuse that shows compassion for both the abuser and the abused.... unless they are a psychopath, then they do have feelings and are fully caused to be abusive - because they have some dysfunction that needs help.
Obviously it's a case by case situation and if someone is wantonly abusive then kick them out!
Alice, as usual, your arrow strikes the bull's eye.
Restraint is required in everything in life and so it is required in criticism also. Why does any one criticise anything? Any person with some intelligence would normally not start criticising something, unless it offends his sensibilities. Therefore, it is desired that such restrained criticism should be given adequate consideration.
Ruth, these rules would put Fox News and talk radio out of business!