The Slippery Slope to Cyber Bullyingby Linda L. Rigsbee on 10/30/14
The chances are that all of us have had one foot on the slippery slope to bullying more than once in our lives. That's because we are all imperfect and the pathway is often confusing. Sometimes we have been given the wrong instructions and sometimes we misinterpret the instructions. Sometimes we rewrite the instructions.
A bully is a person who tears others down in the process of building themselves up. Think you've never done that? Think again.
Have you ever called someone stupid? You see the word on Facebook a lot these days. Calling someone stupid implies that they are not as intelligent as you are. Pointing out an opposing idea as stupid indicates that you think your idea is better. Either case could be true, but beware of the slippery slope.
Having the right information doesn't always make you right. The right information delivered with arrogance is offensive and generally inefficient. It is disrespectful. Instead of being passed on, it is more likely to be ignored. Getting the right information can be dubious. Research is easier with the internet, but anyone can post information. Even if the information is from a reliable source, it could be outdated, incomplete or misinterpreted. No one is right 100% of the time, no matter how well informed. People respond better if given the information and allowed to verify it, accept it or reject it at their own discretion.
Remember the old saying, "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all?" The reason so many people toss that rule aside is because sometimes unpleasant things need to be addressed. This is where the pathway gets foggy.
Unpleasant things can be presented in a positive or negative manner. It is our choice, but often we don't have the skills to present the idea in a positive perspective. Half the words in a negative article could be scrubbed. Sometimes we let emotion take the place of reason. That's a quick way to hit the slopes.
Learning communication skills is as important as learning to speak. Technology has evolved to the point that it allows us to hide behind a fictitious name or identity. We no longer look the other person in the eye or see them flinch when our words are harsh. We don't see the disbelief or scorn in their eyes when we use politically correct terms. We no longer see the consequences of our words until something drastic happens.
The art of communication isn't winning an argument or making yourself look good. The art of communication is the transformation of words to thoughts that convey information between two or more people. If it isn't working for at least two people, it isn't working at all. Today we can post something that reaches hundreds of people who will each have their own take on it. Inevitably, someone is going to disagree. Everyone benefits from a new perspective, whether they agree with it or not. Inevitably, right or wrong, someone is going to agree with the opposing viewpoint. That is communication. As long as the opposing point of view is presented with skill, we stay off the slippery slope.
How do you think people could improve their communication skills?