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Tyler Ludens
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How do I talk about myself and my own choices and ethics without people thinking I'm talking about what other people should do? There was a (to me) massive misunderstanding caused by this failure to communicate in a thread recently.

I always use "I" when talking about myself, I never use "you." I try to drape "I" "me" "myself" liberally throughout posts about myself, so that people will know I'm talking about me, and not them.

Any other suggestions?

 
Tracy Wandling
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Yeah, that is definitely one of the major pitfalls of online communications. I too try to be careful about using 'I' and 'I believe' when sharing my opinions. And sometimes the misunderstandings still happen. So, I have just come to realize and accept that there are some people - and we all know them - who just really enjoy nit picking, arguing about semantics, and/or generally getting offended by what other people say. And that's just the way it goes sometimes.

I've read threads where you have worked hard to keep things going along nicely, and smoothing out the misunderstandings, and you do a really good job! But even if you prefaced everything you said with, "The following is just my opinion, or choices I have made for my own life, which I am sharing with you just as an example of one person's particular viewpoint or way of doing things", you will still get people either challenging your beliefs, or picking at little things - just for fun apparently.

But this is a good conversation to have, if only to remind people that written communications between people who don't actually know each other can be tricky to navigate. I think it is a good idea to really think about what the other person has written, and not try to read between the lines. It is much better to ask questions to get clarification, than to make assumptions about what the writer intends. And I believe that sometimes it's best not to say anything at all. I'm pretty careful about not fuelling the fire - (though I admit that the sarcastic intellect in me sometimes really wants to come out to play. > )

And that's just my personal opinion on the subject.
 
David Livingston
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While we can control what we write 100% our control what others think we have written 0 %
same the world over

David
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you! Thing is, to me, semantics - the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning - is super important, especially in this medium in which the typed word and a handful of emoticons is all we have. Semantics, the meaning of words, which meaning we're using with the word, very important, in my opinion. If we don't have a shared set of meanings, we might not be able to communicate much at all. One of my favorite bits of literature is Alice in Wonderland. You may recall the scene between Humpty Dumpty and Alice in which this exchange occurs:

'And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'
'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

The whole scene: http://sabian.org/looking_glass6.php

I try not to be a Humpty Dumpty with my own personal meanings for words. I try to use words the way most people use them, or a dictionary definition, if I'm not sure how other people use them. Another favorite book is Middlemarch, by George Eliot, in which one character says to another "We have all got to exert ourselves a little to keep sane, and call things by the same names as other people call them by." I try to keep that in mind.

I hope that isn't too nit-picky!
 
David Livingston
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Lewis Carrol was a maths professor and it has been suggested that both of the Alice books are a satire on the " new" mathematics ( irrational numbers etc ) that had become fashionable at this time
David
 
Tracy Wandling
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"The following is just my opinion, or choices I have made for my own life, which I am sharing with you just as an example of one person's particular viewpoint or way of doing things."

Not nit-picky at all, in my humble-ish opinion. Excellent quotes, by the way! Pretty much covers it all.

I too am very careful about the 'proper' use of words, and feel that semantics is very important. But there are words that do have multiple meanings, so I try to be careful with those. The other problem that can be encountered is the emotional meaning that might be tied to the word for some people, such as 'failure', which resulted in a great thread called Garden Failures. I have a hard time with that word, but lots of people don't, so I try not to attach my own personal aversion to the word when others use it. Tricky stuff sometimes.

And within a relatively new 'discipline' such as permaculture, I think there are bound to be differing ideas about what a certain word means, or how a certain technique is described or implemented. Lots of room for confusion, misconception, and conflicting ideas and ideals.

But the mantra of this site, "be nice", I believe to be a simple and healthy one to follow; and I think that if we keep that in mind when others are in the process of 'misunderstanding' our written words, it will make it much easier to not be irritated, angered, or hurt by what other members choose to write. You can be as clear and concise as it is possible to be, but sadly there will often be someone who 'misunderstands'. And that is their own choice. I think you play very nice.

And David is right. What other people think is out of our control. And I myself personally feel (overkill? ) am getting to the point where I don't give a dang what others think of me or what I'm doing or saying. Unless they like me and think what I'm doing is great - then I adore them.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Tracy Wandling wrote:"The following is just my opinion, or choices I have made for my own life, which I am sharing with you just as an example of one person's particular viewpoint or way of doing things."


Maybe I should use that as a standard disclaimer at the top of all posts!

I wish I could get to the point of not caring if I am communicating or not, but for some reason, being misunderstood, misquoted, etc is extremely distressing to me. Message boards like this one are my primary social outlet, so what occurs on them looms freakishly large in my mind. "You should get out more." Yes, yes I should, but apparently that's not going to happen.

 
chip sanft
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
Tracy Wandling wrote:"The following is just my opinion, or choices I have made for my own life, which I am sharing with you just as an example of one person's particular viewpoint or way of doing things."


Maybe I should use that as a standard disclaimer at the top of all posts!


I think I'm going to make a new signature now...
 
Tracy Wandling
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Yes, I'm a hermit, too. I find 'socializing' in person kind of exhausting. But I also put a great deal of importance on clear communication, and being nice. (Although, if there is a smartass comment to be made, I will generally be the one to make it. I can't help it! It's genetic.

Feel free to quote me!
 
Tracy Wandling
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This is something that always helps to get me through a difficult conversation . . .



I-am-awesome.jpg
[Thumbnail for I-am-awesome.jpg]
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I feel that people tell others what to do/ think, not because they are awful dictators trying to stifle dissent, but because they are trying to “share the surplus” by spreading wonderful ideas.

So we have the following scenario; person one posts about what they do/ think. They feel great about it. Then person two disagrees, and posits that something else should be done/ thought, because who wouldn’t try to share such a great idea as theirs? Person one perceives this as an attack, because they like their original idea. So they react. Person two now feels that their gift is being rejected, so they react. Things spiral out of control, and Burra steps in to clean up the mess and call timeout.

So even if somebody posts solely to tell others about their views, somebody with a divergent view may try to convert them. This may help everyone realize what is going on.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Also, Tyler, I think you do a fairly good job explaining what you do/ think without implying everyone else must be similar.
 
K Putnam
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I'm going to guess this is directed at me, a newer guest here, so let me attempt to gently explore this topic.

I got an A in the top-ranked legal writing program in the United States. Words and their usage are very important to me and I will often rewrite paragraphs over and over to be as clear as possible. Despite that effort, there are still misunderstandings.

I am going to pull from that thread, not to pointlessly rehash it, but to highlight a few things.


I can't personally put my personal health over all other considerations.

Now, there's an interesting idea to explore.

I tend to think the opposite. The best way to optimize my care of the earth would be to optimize care of myself. I know that if I put my personal health over almost all other considerations, the earth would actually be a healthier, more sustainable place. I would find a job that requires little time in the car. I'd quit drinking coffee in said car. I would eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer grains. I would never eat meat that didn't come from a trusted source. I would buy more produce from local farmers instead of the grocery store that inexplicably ships in everything from California.

FWIW, I am working on all of these things and my health has been on an eight-year upswing. I'm looking younger as I get older.

One of the first rulers of being a healer is that you have to take care of yourself if you want to take care of others. It is hard to do and I actually need to get off the computer and go do my post-work self-care routine. It is incredibly easy to martyr ourselves for something else. Been there. Done it. And when it comes to choices for the earth, mine were poor. It makes sense *to me* that in order to take care of the space around us, we have to take really good care of ourselves. YMMV.


In this post, I criticized myself, my own current and past choices, and shared how that affected my life.

Later,

If I have to choose my personal health over health of the planet, I would choose the health of the planet. If my health depends on eating the flesh of mammals from the store, I will choose to be unhealthy.

Do you understand what I am saying?


Yes, I do, and I am saying that choosing illness is unsustainable.

Now, I'm not offering an opinion on veganism, vegetarianism, or eating meat. I am saying our health and the health of this planet go hand in hand on multiple levels. The choices that make me healthier almost always make the planet healthier. The healthier I am, the more energy I put into being a better steward of my personal land and community, which then feeds me.

I come at this from having been in an unhealthy place physically, mentally, spiritually and well on the road to an early death. The only thing giving up my health gave me was perspective on how hard it was to get back. And I could definitely still be healthier.

More importantly, if you multiply the numbers out, asking people to give up their own personal health in the attempt to heal the planet is unsustainable because it does not pass a test of logic. It is martyrdom. There are hundreds of daily choices that can bring us closer to health while reducing our impact on the environment. In my case, it's a matter of a) figuring out what those are, b) choosing them over the lazier option, c) attempting to minimize the number of days I just really want a Starbucks breakfast sandwich.


Here, I explain that I am not offering an opinion on the vegan debate on the thread, share my life choices including having been on road to early death, and then attempt to lighten things up by making fun of myself and my love for breakfast sandwiches.

I was met with this:

Nobody in this thread is asking people to give up their own personal health in the attempt to heal the planet. So I don't even know why it is being repeated.


At that point, the conversation is over. I tried to explore an idea about human health and the health of the planet, using my own poor life choices and harsh learning experiences as the example. I offered up important things that I have learned in the course of my life in an well-intentioned effort to contribute to your thread about your poor health. I don't have any expectation that people have to agree with me, but I also do not have to continue the conversation past a point where my offerings are met with "I don't even know why it is being repeated."

I do not get joy out of arguing on the internet. I am extremely well-trained at arguing. It is an activity I am not interested in engaging in for recreation. If I make a comment here, it is an attempt to further a dialogue, not quash someone's personhood.
 
Burra Maluca
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I do not get joy out of arguing on the internet. I am extremely well-trained at arguing.


And I get no joy out of having to cut short my break to come back and have to sort out off topic discussion and arguments!

Permies is not a place for arguments, it's for discussion. What you might think of as 'an interesting thing to explore' might just be knocking the whole thread off course. And anything that smells of arguing is going to get removed, so I'd suggest that everyone takes a deep breath and learns to moderate their own discussion.

I'm going back to my break. Hopefully, I'll be some time. Please play nicely till I get back!

 
Sebastian Köln
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Offtopic on Failure:
Tracy Wandling wrote:The other problem that can be encountered is the emotional meaning that might be tied to the word for some people, such as 'failure', which resulted in a great thread called Garden Failures. I have a hard time with that word, but lots of people don't, so I try not to attach my own personal aversion to the word when others use it.

Tracy, I would guess that it has to do with the meaning you are associating with it.
Some (religious) institutions have coined it to be bad and evil. Expecting everything to succeed at first.
But this isn't the way that live works. And it isn't the meaning of that word.

Wikipedia wrote:Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.

The expectation of direct success even made it in the first sentence there!

In order to learn we need to try. And this means that not everything will follow our plan, which is then called failure.

This association of "bad / evil" belongs to the consequences of failure: If my ducks eat the strawberries, that means no strawberries for me. While I do not prefer this outcome, I can live with it.
If I am setting up a nuclear plant and somehow there is a "failure" causing the whole thing to blow up, I cannot live with that. Neither do the people around.
So setting up something that could possibly fail bad, is a bad thing itself. Attempting to blame the failure for the consequences is nothing but the attempt to evade the responsibility of thinking about all possible outcomes in the first place.


I hope this will help you to get a different view of "Failure".


Back to topic:
In previous years I have learned the hard way that written communication has a lot of power. And it requires a lot of attention, care and gentleness to avoid harming other people, possibly even without noticing it!
The the tool of language was given to us without the knowledge how to use it properly!

The next think I had to learn was to always focus on the object. Writing (and talking) about something real, something that is known and has a clear boundary. (Trees, Water, Light, …)
Talking about "personal issues" is dangerous because it somehow also shares them. (I cannot explain this yet.)
 
Tyler Ludens
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K Putnam wrote:I'm going to guess this is directed at me


Actually no, it's about me, and not directed at anyone in particular. It's a thread about a communication problem I have.

 
Sebastian Köln
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Tyler Ludens wrote:How do I talk about myself and my own choices and ethics without people thinking I'm talking about what other people should do? There was a (to me) massive misunderstanding caused by this failure to communicate in a thread recently.

I always use "I" when talking about myself, I never use "you." I try to drape "I" "me" "myself" liberally throughout posts about myself, so that people will know I'm talking about me, and not them.


I would (speaking to Tyler, meaning this is a suggestion to try) first consider the difference between "talking" and "communication".
I assume your goal is the latter and everything following is presuming this.

The objective of your writing is to get information across. This requires that the reader is interested in your information.
I am also assuming this. (There are methods to create such interest, but I consider them manipulative.)

The next step is not to destroy this interest by scaring the reader off.

I cannot tell you are recipe for this. Still there are a few questions you could ask yourself before writing and when proofreading.
- What is the motivation behind telling them something you did, or you think?
- Is there something objective that does not require you in particular but works for any person?
- Define the purpose of the post for yourself and verify that it covers this purpose and not anything else.
- Are you describing something objective (that others can verify) or something subjective to you (that nobody else can verify)?

And finally: Inserting "friendly phrases" only work when they are appropriate.
There are a few places, in my opinion, where grazing animals might be planet-friendly - specifically as you indicate, very dry, cold climates.


a few variations:
There are places where grazing animals are planet-friendly. This would be the extreme statement. It is clear and says that such places exists. (And it would be very difficult to prove it wrong.)
There might be places where grazing animals are planet-friendly. This suggest that such places could exist.
Adding more uncertainty …
There might be places where grazing animals might be planet-friendly. … is almost indifferent to …
There might be places where grazing animals might not be planet-friendly.
Except for the first one, they are always true. You don't have to make it depended on our opinion, as it does not depend on it.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you, Sebastian. This thread is specifically about my opinions, choices, ethics, feelings, etc, and not about anything objective. This thread is about talking about myself. It may be about communicating about myself, as I hope to communicate with others by sharing opinions and other information. We may or may not be able to share information about anything objective on this message board, as we can not claim that anything is a fact or objective reality, or truth.

The examples you give indicate that "in my opinion" may be redundant. By the rules of permies, everything we post about is opinion or otherwise subjective, as far as I can understand. http://www.permies.com/t/17422/tnk/permies-publishing-standards

I'm not sure how your examples will help me to express things more clearly about myself, when they seem (to me) to be doing the opposite, removing myself from the communication. So it's possible I don't quite understand how your examples are relevant to the subject of this thread.

 
Jennifer Richardson
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I think maybe it is not so much an issue with your communication style as with people's styles of relating/responding? For instance when someone discusses their personal ways of doing things, if it is something that I am interested in I often tend to extrapolate how I would be affected by trying something similar, or what the effects would be if large numbers of people did something similar, or the pros/cons of doing something similar, not because I think the person who brought it up was trying to push it on me/others but because I am often pondering the planetary or social impacts of various choices and am a self-experimenter by inclination and am always intrigued to experience different ways of living and doing just out of curiosity and I enjoy thought experiments as a sort of personal entertainment and a way of working out how I feel/think about various things. But if I am not careful, I will respond to people sharing a personal issue with what I think is an interesting speculation or implication about how I am/could be affected, or what would happen if the action or lifestyle in question became wildly popular, or how various aspects of whatever it is compare with alternatives and which may be optimum, or whatever, and it reads as off topic or, at worst, as sort of hostile, like I am putting the person on trial or making them responsible for the choices of everyone on the planet or something. And often they think that I thought they were pushing their beliefs on me and now I am pushing mine on them, but actually that is not what I was trying to do at all. And often at first I am actually kind of frustrated and/or hurt that the person does not want to explore these interesting issues with me and seems to want to shut down discussion until I stop and reflect that they did not sign up for a discussion of the universal implications of whatever and do not want to have to mount a thesis defense of their personal choices, I am the one trying to force those things into the conversation, so I try to tone it down or only engage in such discussions with people who are similarly inclined to me in terms of discussion style. I don't know if this is helpful to you at all, just in my opinion in may be that those reading/listening to you may need to build their/our communication skills rather than vice versa. In which case I'm not sure what you can do other than just remind folks when they spin out too far that you are not interested in debating the parameters and boundaries you have set for yourself and that they are free to make their own choices based on their own priorities and if they are interested in a more philosophical discussion about certain choices, there are probably people who would enjoy engaging in that with them if they started their own thread (provided they could do so in a way that doesn't violate forum rules, of course).
 
Tyler Ludens
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Jennifer Richardson wrote:For instance when someone discusses their personal ways of doing things, if it is something that I am interested in I often tend to extrapolate how I would be affected by trying something similar, or what the effects would be if large numbers of people did something similar, or the pros/cons of doing something similar


I think that's what happened in that thread, which resulted in miscommunication on both sides.

 
Tracy Wandling
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I think that if someone latches on to a certain aspect of a discussion that they find interesting (or they want to 'debate'), but which is likely to take the discussion off track, they should be encouraged to start a new thread, so as to keep the current discussion thread relevant. And by' encouraged' I mean, point it out to them, and if they don't stop, just don't engage with them if they continue. I know it is difficult to ignore, but in my opinion it's the only way to keep the conversation going forward and on track. We should not have to get someone, like Burra, to come in and play mother. (Although, she is very good at it. I felt properly chastised yesterday. )

As for this particular conversation - which is about Tyler's feeling that she is somehow not communicating well - I think that it is much less her communication style that is the problem, but rather the situation of having a vast array of 'communicators' in a thread. With such a mix of communication 'styles', there is bound to be misunderstandings. But there is a big difference between a 'misunderstanding' and just being contentious.

I personally think that as adults, we should be able to control ourselves and have a civilized conversation that stays on point, but that is so often not the case. Some people just prefer to debate. And those are the people that should start a new thread about the topic they would like to debate, and let the conversation carry on in the original thread. Seems logical to me . . .
 
Sebastian Köln
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Dammit. I wrote a lot … and then my browser crashed. (Maybe I should use a modern one…)
in short:
- Tyler, you are still present as the author of your posts without writing "I", or "me" even once. Don't worry about not appearing there.
- The objective part of a message is the part that allows others to follow and understand it. Something that contains only subjective part is similar to me attempting to read Chinese. I have no clue what is going on as I have no reference; nothing to relate to.
- Distinguishing between objective an subjective makes things more clear and more intuitive to read. Make it clear to the reader which is which, so they can challenge the objective truth and accept your subjective view.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Sebastian Köln wrote:
- Distinguishing between objective an subjective makes things more clear and more intuitive to read. Make it clear to the reader which is which, so they can challenge the objective truth and accept your subjective view.


I don't know how to do that in the context of permies rules, where there is no objective truth.

 
Rene Nijstad
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I'm going to try to throw in my few cents. I was in two discussions before where things felt like they started to heat up. I made some statements which I considered on topic, but they touched some related principles. So I got some questions that sounded like disagreements.

The first time I tried to answer the questions. That indeed resulted in discussion. The second time I did not answer those questions, because I felt that would take the conversation off topic and it would most likely have resulted in a more heated discussion as well.

The lessons I learned were:
- that if my initial post stated my thoughts properly already I really could not add anything more.
- that there is no obligation to always answer to everybody.
- that I should try to stay on topic.

To return to the issue of Tyler, you do not have to reply when people drift off topic, you also do not have to understand other people's reasoning. If it feels like things go in the wrong direction it might very well not be because of you. If you stated something clearly already I don't think you have to repeat it. I hope this is of help.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you, that is very helpful advice.

 
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