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How to Interact with Practical Strangers


Contents

Introduction

Below are five suggestions for interacting with practical strangers in an imprecise medium. These are lessons taken from my life, and modified for com.

They are not meant to be hard rules to be followed in com. They should be seen as suggestions on dealling with or avoiding confrontional situations.

Reasonable people can disagree and still be friends.

We live our own lives with our own experiences. Reasonable people can disagree for perfectly valid reasons, and it should not stop us from being friendly with each other.

Focus on the message.

We see each other through the lens of com. We do not "know" the secret heart and nature of each other. As such, we should keep criticisms focused on the actions and not the person.

Criticising the person (bad):
wliao is stupid and says random things.
Criticising the action (better):
wliao is saying a lot of stupid and random things.

We should also try to be polite and kind with the words we use.

Criticising the action (even better):
wliao, I disagree for these 3 reasons, and we can still be friends.

Sometimes personal remarks will be made, or we interpret a comment to be of a personal nature. Very little can be gained from responding in kind. We should try to overlook these comments and move on. After all, reasonable people can disagree and still be friends.

Communication is bi-directional

"Communication" is bi-directional: all parties are both speakers and listeners. We should not expect other people to listen if we do not listen to others in turn. Sometimes, people will agree; sometimes, people will disagree. This is OK, because reasonable people can disagree and still be friends.

We cannot read your mind through com alone

Much of our communication habits are based on the spoken words we hear, as well as the tone and inflections of how the words are presented, and the visual cues of facial expressions. When we use com, we lose a lot of the non-verbal hints. We may intend a statment to be ironic, sarcastic, snarky, or funny, but that intent may not be fully expressed in com.

Be very, very clear about attempts at humor; be very, very sure that the audience appreciates the effort. Please be prepared to "ruin the joke" if the intention is not clear.

Learn to let it go

At the end of it all, sometimes emotions are too strong for a converstaion, feelings are hurt, etc. At that time, it is best to walk away and let everybody cool down. In the wise words of Dobler, you must chill.


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