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A Simple Guide To Participating In A Debate Online

A Simple Guide To Participating In A Debate Online

There is so much information online these days and a lot of it is enough to get even the meekest and most rational person’s blood to start boiling. When you see something you feel strongly about, it’s easy to wade into a debate online and before you know it, it has degenerated into a verbal punch up, far removed from the original issue.

Here are 4 simple tips to ensure you don’t get sucked in:

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1. Participate

Don’t be afraid to get involved in a debate online. It’s healthy and if you keep an open mind, you might learn something. You might also have valuable information to offer someone in need and it could mean all the difference. Just be choosy. Pick your battles. If a comments section has already blown up into insults and memes, don’t bother. It’s not going to appreciate your contribution.

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2. Be informed

Get your facts straight. It isn’t difficult to read up on a topic before you jump into a debate online. Particularly if the topic provokes an emotional reaction and you don’t really know enough about it to add anything to the discussion. If it’s a topic you are confident about, then offer your knowledge with the intention to make a positive contribution. That doesn’t mean you have to compromise your ideals or values, or even be polite if it is something that warrants outrage. It’s just that the outcome should always be to evolve the discussion towards higher knowledge.

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3. Make your point clearly

Sometimes a concise sentence says so much more than endless paragraphs of facts and figures. A debate online can attract hundreds of comments and for anyone reading them, too many words will make them skim past. If you want to make your point powerfully in a comments section, think about the crux of your argument and say it in as few words as you can. Providing a supportive link to back your point and provide further reading can be really effective too.

4. Walk away

When your most rational efforts, your meticulously crafted words with the best of intentions are met with hostility, ignorance and abuse, regardless of how factual or right your point of view is, the best thing you can do is walk away. If someone becomes abusive and antagonistic, the block button can become your best friend. Delete, block, move on.

Featured photo credit: The Huffington Post via huffingtonpost.com.au

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Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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