I love the internet! In fact I dare say I’d give up running water to ensure I had access to the Internet. Okay, I wouldn’t give up running water for the Internet but you get my point. However, I’m saddened at the lack of rhetoric and discussion found on the Internet today. The Internet allows for people from all over the world to discuss important issues but I’ve found people don’t often use forums such as Facebook, Twitter, or even Blogs to discuss issues; it is used as a way to argue, offend, and almost bully others rather than offer up different ideas or solutions to current events and issues. It is easy to blame our lack of discussion on the Internet but, I think the problem is a lack of good old fashion manners.
Why have discussions? Discussions help one to understand a subject or topic area more deeply. Discussions help to explore ideas, to exchange information, to expand and clarify one’s knowledge, to improve one’s ability to think critically, to improve one’s language skills, to increase one’s confidence in speaking. A discussion can change your attitudes and ideas, can help you make a particular decision or come to a conclusion, and gives you the chance to hear thoughts and ideas of others.
I found a short list of discussion etiquette that helped remind me of those important manners to have so I can once again engage in the productive and interactive discussions that I find myself craving at times.
1. Always stay on topic. When one raises an issue that isn’t on topic it often wastes time and prevents you from achieving a certain goal.
2. When discussing, ask open-ended questions. An open-ended question doesn’t require a specific answer. It is a question that is designed to provoke thought.
3. Don’t interrupt while someone else is speaking. It is rude! Interrupting may also lead to conflict between you and the person you’re discussing with. It is important that everyone is allowed to express their ideas.
4. If you disagree with a statement it is important to disagree in a polite manner, “that idea will never work” or “your idea doesn’t make sense” are not ways to disagree. Try, “I see your point, but there are a number of problems that may arise” or “that idea raises some serious issues”.
5. Don’t put down other’s ideas. All ideas should be considered. No one’s should be ridiculed. Doing so may cause others to feel uneasy and not want to express their ideas.
Discussions are important events that allow people to brainstorm ideas or solutions to problems. When people use proper etiquette, the discussion will be extremely productive. I’m going to start a Facebook group that will allow for open discussion and sharing of different ideas. I hope you’ll join the group and share your ideas with me.