JLS (jlsjlsjls) wrote,

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Something old ...

Long ago (in Internet time at least) I served a term as "ListMom" on a Yahoo group that acted as home for fans of a somewhat obscure Canadian science fiction series (for the curious, the show was called "Lexx"). During that period, there were ups and downs (as happens when you're dealing with over 100 people of various nationalities, languages, etc.), and one spectacular episode of all hell breaking lose. I came away from that experience with several very good friends, who I eventually met in RL, now hang out with in LJ and via emails, and don't get to see/talk to anywhere near as often as I'd like, and with the memory of having written one rousing good rant at the membership ... I was astonished and pleased to see it frequently quoted/referred to by other members after the event, and it even pops up outside of the original list on occasion.

Alas, the times they are a-changing, all good things come to an end, and all that jazz. Tonight I retrieved a copy of my lecture, since there is a good chance that its original home may not live much longer; I want to tuck it away in LJ for safekeeping, because it's relevant to so many times and situations. Read it if you wish, but don't feel obliged ... as I said, I just want to ensure that a copy survives ... for my own vanity, if nothing else ***grin***.

Some of it won't make sense if you weren't there at the time (and I'm not going to explain the whys and wherefores and whodunits and background ... that stuff is history, and, in my original words, "If you want gory details, ***points*** the National Enquirer is located at your local supermarket checkout"). But the main body applies very much to things going on in our world today:

The Final Lecture: Intent, Perception, Clarity, and Choice
(originally written and posted on June 14, 2001)

Hello again!

I realize there are a lot of people on this list who may be wondering what has been going on the last couple of days. Sorry for the mystification; what I can say is that some mistakes were made by a couple of members, it's over now and we will be resuming regular programming. If you want gory details, the National Enquirer is located at your local supermarket checkout; this is the KEB, not the tabloids. You can probably put the bones together from the other two lecture installments and the bones are all that's going to appear here.

After reviewing e-mails from various people involved, all I can say is that it appears to have been a VERY unfortunate sequence of errors; a major mountain ended up growing out of what should have been a very minor molehill. I'm pleased to see and report that today everybody has (or at least is doing a damned fine imitation) cooled down and appear to be viewing things a lot more rationally. This means that I've been able to make some very positive changes to the structure of this "lecture" (the original was mentally composed last night) and that makes ListMom VERY happy.

There are a few points I want to make that will hopefully, taken together with my previous emphasis on reporting problems to me, rather than letting them escalate, ensure that we continue to be a cheerful, fun and supportive list family. And so, today's topics will be INTENT, PERCEPTION, CLARITY (and those of you who've heard me go on about clarity in the past can just quit groaning ... you never know, I might have something new to say ) and CHOICES.

INTENT: What you MEAN when you say something.

PERCEPTION: What the other person HEARS when you say something.

Now, much of the problem we had appears to have its roots in these two concepts. The first person INTENDED one thing, the next person PERCEIVED it as another, responded with yet another INTENT, was PERCEIVED in another way ... and so on and so on and so on. One person's "friendly" INTENT is another person's "damn rude" PERCEPTION. One person's "forceful" INTENT is another person's "hostile" PERCEPTION. Get the picture? There are 151 members on this list at this moment and we come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, etc. Never NEVER assume that somebody is gonna see your words as you intend; 95% of the time they will, but there is ALWAYS margin for error. On the flip side, never NEVER assume that your perception is the correct one; again it's 95% and 5%. BUT, rather than assume that somebody is deliberately being offensive, go to ...

CLARITY: Making sure you are absolutely CLEAR on the other person's intent. If you're not sure, ASK!!! Nobody should take offense at this. Those of you who were involved in our little troubles should take a few moments to ponder: Was my intent clear? Were my perceptions? Assuming the worst all the time ... well, this is how wars, fights and other nasty things get started. And clarity is not just the responsibility of the perceiver; before you hit that send button or that return key, take a moment to go over your words and think about them carefully. Is it possible they can be misinterpreted? How well you know the other person is a factor ... if you're used to each other then you can make a reasonably good guess at intent and perception. If you're talking to somebody new, then I recommend avoiding slang, jargon, etc. whenever possible ... keep it simple till you know each other and ASK if things are still
unclear. There are people on this list that I've known for over a year and have almost daily e-mail contact with, as well as talking through posts and chats ... and we STILL have to occasionally ask for clarification.

Remember, in real life people can see your facial expression and your gestures and hear the tone of your voice. In here they've ONLY got your words. A moment of thought about the words you use can make the difference between enmity, cool acquaintance or a wonderful friendship.

And finally ...

CHOICES: Which I'm sure you're all familiar with after seeing "The Beach", no? There were some bad choices made this weekend ... on both sides. Politely saying "that kind of talk is considered out of line here ... this is the way we behave" or dropping a line to ListMom saying "you might want to speak to "insert name here" about ..." would have prevented all this and allowed ListMom to spend her evenings in her garden instead of in her office. Remember, no matter which individual does what, ListMom is responsible for this list. Which means that if you do something bad, I'm the one who gets to mop up the blood, body parts, broken glass, etc. Not really my idea of a good time.

To recap: next time (which hopefully will never happen), before anybody goes off on a rampage, stop and consider: INTENT, PERCEPTION, CLARITY and whether you prefer ListMom delivering lectures or JLS delivering warped notions, newspaper articles and the latest version of the KEB Fiction Index. Personally, I prefer the latter.

This entire matter is now officially closed and ListMom is gonna duck into the nearest phonebooth and transform herself back into JLS.


P.S. If you have any intent, perception or clarity questions about this lecture ... ASK DAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ***grin***

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