The Importance of Tone When Disagreeing & Why Disagreements are Not Always Attacks

This is a pretty lengthy blog but I hope you will all take the time to read it in full.

This is a blog that I’ve been putting off for a while as I’ve watched Mibba cycle through the different hot topics. I think it’s finally time for someone to stand up and say this. Naturally, Mibbians have a lot of disagreements with each other. Disagreements are a part of life and there’s simply no way to avoid them, no matter where you go or what you do, disagreements will always be present. But disagreements seem to cause a lot of problems on Mibba, mainly for two reasons. Reason one is people use a very harsh and forceful tone. Your tone and how you’re expressing your disagreements is an important thing that can avoid arguments or start them. There is a big difference between debates/discussions and arguments. We should be starting discussions with each other, not arguments. The second reason is that people don’t know how to be disagreed with. Many of you take disagreements as personal attacks and get offended when someone simply disagrees with you, regardless of tone. Both of these things are things that need addressing.

Now, before I go on, I want to say that I want you all to read this with an open mind. None of this is a personal attack on anyone in any way shape or form, I’d appreciate it if you did not take it as a personal attack since it is not one. More so, I want you guys to think about the things you say and do before you say/do them. Okay? I want you all to have an open mind and think about everything that is being said and all the harshness we are passing off to each other lately. I want you all to think about what makes Mibba the amazing community it is.

Mibba is a community of writers and as such, we are prone to disagreements because of how opinionated we all are. If we didn’t have disagreements, we wouldn’t be much of a writing community, now would we? Disagreements are a part of the community, it makes it what it is. Writers often see the world differently than how the average person does, because our minds think more about things. As you grow as a writer, you begin to notice things around you that others don’t. You think about things in a different light. That’s how it works with most artists, not just writers. Artists of all kinds begin to think and see the world differently as though grow as an artist.

Not only that, but it’s human nature. Humans cannot always get along, it is simply impossible. No matter what, there will always be disagreements, whether they’re big or small. And disagreements aren’t necessarily a bad thing. What makes them bad is when you express them in a harsh and rude manner. For example, if I was blogging about video games and my main point was life farming. For those who aren’t gamers, “life farming” is basically spending time specifically gaining lives. They do easy levels to get lives and what not. As a gamer, I do not believe in life farming. I think it takes the fun out of games.

Now if I posted that in a public forum, people would be free to disagree with me. If I posted it to a blog on Mibba, people would be free to disagree with it. I understand and accept that, as should you all. But the important part is how that person chooses to disagree. If they said something like Well I disagree. I believe in life farming because 1, 2 3, and they explained why they disagree with me. But if they said something like That’s stupid. Everyone should life farm because 1, 2, 3.

Looking at the two answers, there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference between the two. I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t think twice about saying the second statement, but you should. On the Internet, it’s hard to set a tone for what you are saying because you are not actually saying it. The words you choose have a big part in how people perceive your statement. If you’re using negative words like “stupid” to convey your opinion, people will naturally think you’re being hostile because you’re throwing around negative words. If you use words like sweetie, dear, or darling then people will think it’s hostile, because those words are condescending when disagreeing. If you call people names when disagreeing then it will come off as hostile. Your choice of words matters much more than you probably think it do.

Before posting a disagreement, think about your words again and think about whether or not your words are coming off as harsh.

Now, let’s do a 180 and turn to the other side of the spectrum. Getting disagreed with. On Mibba, I often see people claiming they’re being “attacked” when someone disagrees with them, even if the person is being completely respectful and is in no way attacking them. It’s come to my attention that many Mibbians simply don’t know how to handle someone disagreeing with them, and I think we need to learn how to handle it. As I said, disagreements are a part of life, you cannot avoid them. But you can’t just stomp your feet and cry that you’re being attacked whenever someone disagrees with you. You will never make it through life if you continue to do that, you’ll have a very hard time.

For example, when you get a job and your boss disagrees with you, are you really going to get so upset and cry that your boss “attacked” you for disagreeing with you? The answer would be most likely not. If you did, you’d probably be fired on the spot for it. That's the reality of it. I’ll use my job as an editor to make the case. On Mibba, I’m an editor for the Magazine as well as a Beta Reader. When I edit an article for the Magazine, everything I do is a suggestion. I can change the errors I see, but the author is allowed to change them back if they disagree. I can also tell the author any advice I have for the article, such as things to add to the article or its title. Again, it’s just a suggestion and the author can disagree.

The same goes for when I beta someone’s story. The Beta Readers are not ordering you to change anything, we’re suggesting to you what to change. You are free to agree or disagree with our suggestions. If you think we’re wrong on a suggestion we made, then you’re free to not change what we pointed out. You’re free to disagree with us. Accepting disagreements is part of my job, because I wouldn’t get very far as an editor if I cried “attack” whenever someone disagreed with me.

In order for groups of people to work together, they need to know how to handle disagreements. The Magazine members and staff are always disagreeing with each other, especially when it comes to planning things for the site. But that’s how we work. That’s how we accomplish things. If we all agreed and didn’t express our discontent with a suggestion, everything would be a mess and we would no longer be able to work as a group. We get things done because we are able to disagree with each other and know we will talk our disagreements out in a respectful and mature manner.

This goes for the entire community of Mibba. As a community, we need to learn how to disagree with each other respectfully and how to handle disagreements. We cannot always get along, that’s not how humans work and that’s not how life works. That’s how fairytales work and Mibba is no fairytale. In order to work as a community once again, we need to do some building when it comes to disagreements.

When you’re posting a disagreement and expressing your opinion, think about the words you are using and how you are phrasing it. One word may make a big difference in how the person perceives your comment. If someone is disagreeing with you, don’t take it as a personal attack because more often than not, it’s not a personal attack. Remember that you are posting on a public website and by doing such, you have opened yourself up to others’ opinions. If you wish to not have disagreements well…. Best not post on a public place. That’s all you can do.

So please, think a lot more about how you’re saying things and how you’re perceiving things. Mibba would not be filled with such harshness as it is right now if we could all learn how to disagree and how to accept disagreements. Mibba is a website with an amazing community, let's not let that community fall apart by a few minor disagreements.
August 9th, 2013 at 10:47pm