Why Conflict Is Useful, And What To Do If You Need Help Managing It

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Support isn't always about agreeing. Sometimes, the best support comes from a challenge. A challenge might enable you to see your patterns in a helpful way; it might be an opportunity to practice separating from emotionally charged situations; it might be a chance to accept that not everyone is going to agree.

Yes, being challenged is inherently stressful - but that doesn't mean it's not useful. Exercising your choice, deciding what you want to take on-board, emotionally/cognitively - that's a critical life skill that can only be exercised in the face of a stressor.

We don't set rules around what kinds of comments are appropriate or inappropriate for exactly this reason.

No one here is the arbiter of 'appropriate' behavior. Administrators are the final arbiter of what is unhelpful for the community as a whole - but that's very different from ensuring that members are acting 'appropriately', because there is no universal definition of 'appropriate'. Your expectations of supportive behavior are not going to be the same as your neighbor's.

Personal attacks? You betcha - they are a problem. We have a rule, and we will act on it. A personal attack is an attack on someone's person, on their character - it is not the same as going after someone's ideas, their thinking. Telling someone that they are spouting bullshit isn't a personal attack. It's blunt, it may be harsh, but it's not an attack. Telling someone that they are full of bullshit is a personal attack.

Not respecting boundaries set by staff? We will thread ban, or lock threads, or temp ban as needed. Staff only set boundaries to keep threads functioning: keep them on-topic, pull them back to topic, or give members who aren't regulating well a heads up that they need to re-gain that basic skill.

Self-regulation: we all do it, and we all screw it up, sometimes. If staff went after every member the moment they started to spiral, there might not be anybody left, on any given day. This place exists for people who live with PTSD, and it's maintained by people who live with PTSD (sufferers and supporters alike).

We do understand. We don't hold grudges. We do look for patterns of behavior that may be more disruptive than beneficial to the community at large.

We identify those patterns two ways: we read the content, and we read reports.

If you see something that you think is spinning out - hit the report button and tell us. Go ahead and respond too, if you want; or take a break, investigate you own feelings in the moment, go make a diary post - ultimately everyone can always use the reminder that your primary business is the process of your own recovery. How someone else may be experiencing their own change and growth is not up to you to control, influence, or judge.

You do you. Let them do them. And if they are pissing you off, take a look at why you're getting angry; because your responsibility begins and ends with your own response. In the end, you are not responsible for teaching anyone but yourself.

The next post will address the second part of the title: what your options are in terms of managing the voices that you find unhelpfully stressful, here on the forum.


Managing conflict with individuals

Let's say that you are aware of what your personal triggers are, you know what your emotional/cognitive capacity is at the moment, and you are not up for conflict management right now. Let's also say that you know who on this forum is most likely to challenge you, in your ability to respond (whether they themselves are challenging with their content, or not - because, yes: for some, niceness and kindness is more upsetting than bluntness and pushback).

What are your options?
  1. You can put the member on ignore. When you do this, they can post on your profile page, but you will not see the posts. In the forums, you will know that you are missing posts because you'll see an option to show ignored posts. On the profile page, there is no prompt to tell you if there is ignored content. So, it's out-of-sight, out-of-mind on the profile page. Link Removed on your profile. You'll also see the option on any member's pop-up.
  2. You can restrict posting on your profile page to members that you follow. When you do this, anyone can see your profile page, but only people that you follow can actually make a post. You can also restrict the viewing of your profile page, who can send you a PC, all sorts of options. Check them out, Link Removed.
  3. Develop a trauma diary. When you are having an overflow reaction to something, sometimes writing about it can help you focus on the things that really matter to you, inside of the reaction. The trauma diaries are an excellent place to do that. Members respect each others' diary space very consistently - you don't need to expect anyone to argue with you having your own feelings in your diary. I'm not saying the diary is the place to blame everyone else for your reaction - on the contrary; the diary is a place you can articulate your reaction, even if it's only so you can shake it off in that moment. Threads are for responses. Diaries are where you can talk with yourself.
And alongside all these options: you can report.

If there is something that is (in your opinion) going outside the bounds, reporting it does three things:
  1. If you have 500 posts or more, the message you report is put into moderation, which means it disappears from view and stops being a problem for other members.
  2. It builds a report history for that member, which can help staff see a pattern in the individual that might not otherwise be noticed.
  3. It immediately puts a staff member's focus on the issue at hand. Without that, we won't notice something until we stumble on it - which can take awhile. Reports tell us what to look at, first.

Sometimes, there's nothing to action in that moment. But it doesn't mean you shouldn't have reported, and it doesn't mean that it won't contribute to action further down the line. A pervasive and enduring pattern of behavior that affects a cross-section of the community will sometimes warrant action. Without reports, we may not see it.

There's only one real 'don't': Don't expect other people to change their behavior, when it upsets you - change yours.

Asking for a boundary is one thing - and you can exercise that tool. But, if an individual is unwilling to accept your directive, then you need to find another way. That other way will likely be one or more of the options listed, above.

If you are feeling incredibly stuck, and your issue is more confidential than you are comfortable discussing in a Help-Ticket - you are welcome to start a PC with me, as Administrator. (Do not PC any other staff to ask for help, as you'll be directed to the Help-Ticket system).

I cannot promise that I will do what you want me to do, but I can promise that I will listen, evaluate the situation objectively, and act as needed for the overall good of the forum.

If you've got opinions you want to voice about either of these posts - open a help-ticket. If there are enough tickets (meaning, enough members with thoughts), I'll open a community discussion at a pre-arranged time so there can be dialogue.

Thanks for reading.
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