(Metro Creative image)

(Metro Creative image)

Editorial: How we talk to each other could use some work

We’ve been contacted by a lot of people lately who seem really, really angry

You know that phrase “you catch more flies with honey”?

We think it’s time to bring that sentiment back into our public discourse.

After all, in many cases it really is true.

Consider how you respond when someone has a complaint and they come at you in a rage, compared to someone who smiles, maybe tells you what a good job you are doing in general, but there’s this one thing they’d like to address. Which approach makes you more inclined to change something in their favour?

Yeah, us too. This editorial was born out of the fact that we’ve been contacted by a lot of people lately who seem really, really angry. Sometimes over really, really trivial things. Sometimes, at the bottom of it, they’re not even that angry, but the way they’ve expressed themselves takes everything to the extreme.

In the past this kind of communication was something we grew out of. When we were teenagers everything seemed like life and death, from today’s outfit choice to who you sat next to. Everything was the worst, or the best.

But social media has conditioned many of us to perpetually express ourselves in these teenage terms. After all, the more extreme the expression or opinion, the more likely it is to get attention and spread, to get a response. Reasoned discourse isn’t likely to go viral.

It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, too.

People post something even more extreme in response, which garners another escalation, and another, until we’ve turned something like a decision council might make into a mass of seething rage with people calling for all of council to be fired. No, wait, driven out of town. No, wait, given the death penalty. No, wait….

This has spilled over into our real lives. I’m sure if you think about it, you too have seen the changes.

But in the end what is more important, that you’ve expressed your view in the most extreme way possible, or that you’ve actually communicated something to someone? Preferably to a mutually satisfactory conclusion. In the end, a bunch of likes and shares leaves you pretty lonely, while really connecting with people is far more fulfilling.

So maybe, before you fire off that email or pick up the phone while you can barely catch your breath you are filled with such outrage (outrage which is often temporary), think about how you’d prefer to be addressed if you were the one on the other end of your communication.

Another adage comes to mind “treat people as you would like to be treated”.