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Tone Artesians a Leader into Deeper Water or Drowns Discussion

Whenever I teach leadership skills online, I suggest that Internet discussions still have a way to go. Do you agree?

Sign into any online chat room to discuss corporate crime, health care at work, or global opportunities, and you’ll see what I mean. Inevitably, I tend to get my hopes up at the start, because I’m interested in opinions and facts flying in from all angles of an issue. ch10-artesianwell.jpg

At first, refreshing perspectives often propel landmark ideas, questions pop up in places I’d not thought to probe, and amazing solutions tend to cost less and offer more. Serotonin all around.

Unfortunately though, just when the best topics heat to a delightful boil, inevitably an angry or inappropriate  post attacks people or shuts out ideas that differ.  

You likely can guess what happens. Cortisol rises. Great exchanges that free fell before the attack … suddenly either freeze in midair or fire back missiles in counterattacks. Either way deep, open discussions give way to barbs and shattered sensibilities.


There's nothing wrong with holding hot ideas about any topic – either for or against the opinions in the group. In fact, a bit of passion can add zip and tends to pique people’s interest.  That’s why folks who disagree add zesty spice to liven the mix.

But if you want to tackle issues at deeper levels, or if you expect to take action in ways not tried before, it seems to me that you need to cultivate a civil tone that values differences, by respecting people. How so?

I like to think of tone is a discussion’s drill. Its arm will either artesian into deeper wells or break up the entire process.

If you’ve tasted tone that draws from deeper pools …  you’ll agree most online discussion still have a way to go. What do you think? 

3 Comments/Trackbacks

Ellen, you raise a good point. Opposing views are needed to really get at the heart of an issue and they work as a whetstone to sharpen our ideas. But that cannot happen if flame wars break out. The other day I visited the site of an avowed "left wing" thinker who invited "right wing" folks to come to his site so he could have opposing views. He had not thought about the emotions involved in doing this that lead to anger and flames. You offer great advice here to think proactively to prevent uncivility. Great post!

We've likely all hit the "send" button before we should at one time or another - but it's always a loss when tone takes out the best voices on a topic:-) and yet it doesn't need to.

Takes a few skills to disagree - and still not truncate the whole discussion with poor tone. Thanks for stopping by, Robyn, and for modeling tone that works.

It's kind of related to Hal's last post on kindness too, because good tone relies on kind motives:-)

You have a point. It's more lively if a discussion consist of opposing parties. Although thing might get rough on the process. Besides, comments doesn't consist of positive feedbacks only but also the negative replies.

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