How Do You Handle Insults?

by Jay Deragon on 03/20/2009

insultsI was recently engaged in a discussion on a Linkedin Group that turned from bad to worse.  The experience really made me think about my own nature and the dynamics of human nature when people start throwing insults at you online.  I will share the story and ask for input from my readers.

I had posted an announcement in a group on Linkedin which previously I had rarely shared anything.  The announcement was relevant to a new broadcast about small business and social media benefits.  One of the group members responded to my discussion post by indicating that I was spamming the group.  I responded and simply said I apprecated their feedback and was not trying to spam rather to simply share something I thought was valuable.  In response the same person then pointed out that I had a grammatical mistake in my response and then went on to point out that my discussion post was an obvious spam aimed at driving traffic to the content I shared.

Subsequently I re-engaged in the dialog and simply stated that again I appreciated the point about my poor grammar in response to their calling me a spammer.  I also indicated that if the members of this group felt that I was spamming then I apologize for simply trying to share something I thought was valuable information.  In response the same person and then the group administrator jumped into the dialog and began insulting me indicating that I was unprofessional and my grammar mistake clearly indicated my lack of professionalism and that my post to the discussion board was clearly a spam attempt to drive traffic to a site.  The exchange continued and the insults got worse.  I ended it by stating my shock about the accusations, judgments and assumed motivations then I simply removed myself from the group permanently.

Now considering that this was a public forum I thought the parties acted totally unprofessional and rather than have an adult discourse about the related issues they in turn attacked me with verbal insults open for public viewing.  I then thought about “relational conversations” and whether insults, judgments and accusations of being unprofessional were common in public discourse.

When I converse with family, friends and business associates rarely do I find the dialog turning to grammar corrections, insults or judgmental accusations. To enter into dialog with these attributes only stirs negative exchanges that take away from the essence of the original dialog intent, the relationship potential and any potential gains.

What Are The Standards for Conversations?

Wikipedia defines a conversations as communication by two, three, or more people. It is a social skill that is not difficult for most individuals. Conversations are the ideal form of communication in some respects, since they allow people with different views on a topic to learn from each other.

For a successful conversation, the parties must achieve a workable balance of contributions. A successful conversation includes mutually interesting connections between the parties or things that the parties know. For this to happen, those engaging in conversation must find a topic on which they both can relate to in some sense. Those engaging in conversation naturally tend to relate the other person’s statements to themselves. They may insert aspects of their lives into their replies, to relate to the other person’s opinions or points of conversation.

Funny but I could not find any reference to conversational standards which suggest that pronunciation, grammar or insults are normal standard for conversations between two or more people.  After all, our language is changing constantly and if we focus our self defined standards onto others we may miss the intent of a conversation and thus miss the opportunity to learn from the conversation.  Growing beyond ourselves requires learning from others.  If my standards fora conversation do not match your expectations for a conversation then lets discuss it without insulting each other and then maybe we can both grow.  Human nature is not attracted to conversational insults. And by the way you don’t have to be a “professional journalist” to be allowed to engage in a conversation.  At least I don’t think we do.

What say you?


dan March 20, 2009 at 11:23 pm

You stepped in a turd.

Business 3.0 Tech. March 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm

How Do You Handle Insults?

Dale Lawrence March 20, 2009 at 11:46 am

“How Do You Handle Insults? | The Relationship Economy……” [have you had this experience?]

JDeragon March 20, 2009 at 10:24 am

How Do You Handle Insults?: Growing beyond ourselves requires learning from others. If my standards fora convers..

prblogs March 20, 2009 at 9:49 am

RelationshipEcon: How Do You Handle Insults?: Growing beyond ourselves requires learning from o..

Gerard McLean March 20, 2009 at 10:26 am

Post an apology once and then let it go, no matter how many responses you get to your apology. When people don’t accept an apology for something, they are just looking for the last word in a fight. Let them have it.

A real spammer would not even bother replying with an apology. Your apology should have been their social cue.

Nora Curtis March 20, 2009 at 10:18 am

Hi Jay,
it’s simply astounding to me that people in Linkedin would escalate the “dispute” to that situation. If someone wanted to correct you, it is not a cause to gang up on a member…having said that, too many sites are being invaded by spam, that the reaction is understandable. The borders between sharing our ideas and promoting our business are very thin…when I do sign up with my blog address, I know that the purpose in a partial way is to make that link known.
Perhaps the lesson is to be very wary of forums guidelines about spamming; to refrain from putting your link into the message, and to produce some guidelines about online relationships.
Being myself an expert in online dispute resolutions, I’m still missing some widget or artifact which would allow us to post a good apology and receive a lot of good will from the other side…If you are interested in this side of the dispute, perhaps we can think of something, and be creative!
Be well, and thanks for sharing!

Alan See March 20, 2009 at 9:11 am

RT @JDeragon: New blog post: How Do You Handle Insults? … good post, something to think about

JDeragon March 20, 2009 at 9:00 am

New blog post: How Do You Handle Insults?

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