Tips for thinking through what I say?

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by ChelG, Jun 26, 2018.

  1. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    I've recently said some things which were really hurtful to another user here, and the problem boils down to my inability to express myself clearly. What I did was talk of a generic group when I meant a specific subset of that group and assume everyone knew what I was talking about. Does anyone have any advice for making sure I don't do that again? Specific ways to remember to check?
     
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  2. Chiomi

    Chiomi Master of Disaster

    For me, the major thing has been practice. Which I know is the least helpful thing ever. When I'm trying to figure out whether to engage with a thing at all, I go through three questions:
    1. Does this need to be said?
    2. Does this need to be said by me?
    3. Does this need to be said by me right now?
    If the answer to any of those is no, I try to close the tab and go do something else, or, in person, change the subject or walk away.

    In terms of clarity in engaging overall, a lot of working on that for me has just been trying to be as clear and specific as possible. And, like, it's hard. But we all have quirks in our writing, and unique voices, and I've tried to incorporate clarity and specificity into the way I talk about everything, so that it's habitual to check clarity and I don't have to think about it as much. I also try to read over what I write, both to check for homophone substitution and clarity (it'd be spelling, too, except spellcheck is automatic).

    . . . and then I've also worked on apologizing more, and more specifically, when I fuck up, because it still happens. But yeah, in general, my approach has been to try and make mindfulness habitual.
     
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  3. Mercury

    Mercury 17 Quicksilver Scribe Tramples The Unrepentant

    Along with Chiomi's suggestions (which I also do and recommend very very highly), I try not to just fire something off and hit post, but go back to edit with the mindset of an exacting teacher red penning each and every example of vague or unspecific writing. Err on the side of overexplaining. Question every single thing that looks like it might be an assumption of something 'everyone' knows and explain the thing anyway. If you're a habitual underexplainer, chances are you're not actually going to overexplain (and if you do and someone gets pissy about being talked down to or something, you can tell them you're just making sure your thought processes are clear. Most people back down at that).

    It'll take some time but after a while it becomes pretty automatic, although you may sometimes need to revisit being very purposefully mindful.

    Also: don't post when you're really mad or upset. Write the thing, edit the thing, save a draft and come back some time later (at least 5-10 minutes) after you've done something to calm yourself a bit. I know my clarity suffers really badly and I'm super prone to misinterpreting people if I'm running on strong emotions, and my answer to those three questions of "does it need to be said" is more honest once I've cleared my head.
     
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