Thoughts on the tone here/people feeling attacked

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Sanman, Feb 8, 2019.

  1. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.
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    Rather than derail the other thread, thought I would start a new one to solicit opinions about the issues some have with the tone here. Curious to hear opinions. Will chime in when I have time.
     
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  2. sb247

    sb247 Doer of things
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    Some people view anything other than overt praise as an attack. They are wrong and need better coping skills
     
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  3. LadyHalcyon

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    It seems you are choosing to ignore the pattern of students saying the same thing. Or maybe you are just blaming them for misinterpreting the tone. I find it ironic that presumed psychologists take the stance of "it is THEIR fault for being hurt and offended." Maybe I'm jumping the gun but this logic sounds close to the "snowflake" logic.
     
  4. sb247

    sb247 Doer of things
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    Not a psychologist. But yes, I absolutely am saying the listeners reaction is not objective evidence of a guilty speaker
     
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  5. LadyHalcyon

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    We can disagree, but imo I'm not sure how telling someone to get a license plate saying they are Doctor "to save patients from a provider who got a doctorate because they want one and daddy wants them to have one too" can be interpreted in any other way than snarky and condescending.

    I agree suggestions/information shouldn't have to be sugar-coated, but I have also observed some downright aggressive responses.
     
  6. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist
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    Another problem is when prospective students feel entitled to be right about things that they simply don't understand (e.g., impact of substantial debt, standards of the field, what matters in admissions, etc.) Sure, there are instances where people (prospective students, students, and senior members) have an undesirable tone, but I don't think that how this forum is conducted is nearly as bad as constantly made out to be in every thread. Could it be better and are people imperfect? yup. But as much as any tone problem, there is a tendency towards defensiveness over asking for clarification when things are potential misinterpreted.

    A general perspective that I've found to be useful is that everything has a cost to pay, including receiving free and personalized insightful expertise about how to manage long-term career planning and decisions.
     
  7. JoePianist

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    Fair enough, in some contexts — but I don’t think that’s the type of case OP is referring to regarding what happened in the original thread (see “Alliant PsyD SF”).
     
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  8. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist, Centene Corp
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    Sometimes people say or assert ridiculous things. Sarcasm, humor, snarkyness are all within the normal range of responses to such things. People, even psychologists/therapists, have different personalities.... thats OK.

    I have said many snarky things to patients over the years as well, especially personality disordered ones. No one benefits from a coddly dishrag therapist when they are making poor life choices.
     
  9. LadyHalcyon

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    I suppose it comes down to the type of communication someone values. If you are fine with speaking to people in such a manner, so be it. But the problem is the students asking questions find it insulting and offensive. If the board takes the position of "that's on them" and "they shouldn't be so sensitive" then I guess it is unlikely things will change.
     
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  10. sb247

    sb247 Doer of things
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    I'm not defending every comment as something I would say, but every adult should still be able to cope with sarcasm/attitude when it is encountered

    We should all try to be better at life. Sometimes that is speaking with more kindness, sometimes it's developing some resiliency
     
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  11. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist, Centene Corp
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    There maybe some generational effects to this. Maybe cultural as well.
     
  12. futureapppsy2

    futureapppsy2 Assistant professor
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    We at SDN (and @AcronymAllergy and I on this forum specifically) strive to maintain a polite, professional tone on SDN. You have likely seen some of our in thread reminds to "keep it professional, please" when threads are going down the road of arguing, personal fights, etc. Please feel free to report posts if you think there are specific issues with tone that aren't being addressed or are crossing the lines of our Terms of Service. Thanks!
     
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  13. WisNeuro

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    I'd like to also remind people that they are always free to block a user. I've been accused of the "snarky" tone in the past. I respond on here no differently than I do in real life, and that isn't changing any time soon. There are always different sides to these issues, and you can either hear them all, or sit in an echo chamber and hear the only side you wanted to hear. No one is violating the TOS.
     
    #13 WisNeuro, Feb 8, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  14. Temperance

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    For what it's worth, I'd like to offer a thought from having been on the side of someone seeking advice on SDN. Many years ago, I submitted an application to Alliant's Los Angeles campus. I wanted to stay local, and UCLA and USC were both out of the question given my GPA, GRE scores, and level of research experience coming out of undergrad. The faculty at my alma mater had been subtly hinting that there was a stigma against the Psy.D. degree, particularly in academia, but I was too naïve to understand the implications. When I went to one of Alliant's recruitment events, they confirmed that there was a Psy.D. stigma but that it was wholly unjustified. They took us around the campus and made sure to show us the "small" class sizes, library facilities, and bulletin boards with opportunities for practica. There may have been more, but it's been about 10 years, so my memory is fuzzy and things may have changed by now, anyway. They acknowledged that tuition was high, but they assured us that we would make it all back as a high-earning psychologist and have a comfortable lifestyle to boot. I walked out of there thinking that tuition was absolutely bonkers, that the psychologist lifestyle seemed rather nice, and that people were just wrong about the Psy.D.

    For whatever reason, after application deadlines passed, I perused SDN. Initially, the aggressive and snarky posting was off-putting, and it only confirmed what the admissions recruiters were saying: People didn't like what they weren't familiar with, and the Psy.D. was still the newbie on the block. I also looked at angry reviews that former Alliant students posted on various anonymous websites, and I noted that there were some serious red flags. Students posted about being dismissed three or four years into the program -- after sinking close to $100,000 -- for political reasons, inadequate resources, inadequate support from faculty, etc. It took a while, but eventually I accepted that it didn't matter if the stigma against Psy.D. was justified for not; the tone that I was seeing on SDN was reflective of what I would be experiencing from colleagues if I graduated from Alliant, and I didn't want to have to face that hurdle for the rest of my professional life.

    Anyway, to sum up, I am deeply appreciative that people take the time to warn prospective applicants away from predatory programs. Moreover, the tone hammered home for me that this was honest feedback and that it was better to be yelled at now than to have people silently think it while putting my internship or employment applications in the circular file. But then again, what worked for me won't work for everyone, and I don't know if there's a way to emphasize that this is what people are going to face once they're out in the field. In any case, I wanted to leave a note about what conflicting feedback (or misinformation) is out there so that it's easier to combat.
     
  15. BuckeyeLove

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    Not to sound all "I walked 10 miles up hill both ways to school," but hands down the most effective growth I've ever had in my life has come from people lighting a fire under my a#$. This doesn't seem to be circumscribed to psychology either. My psychiatrist colleagues have consistently observed this entitlement and inability to hear critical feedback in their students and residents. Which is odd to me, because I thought the whole idea of the medical model is essentially to wear you down to nothing and then buildyoubackup
     
  16. WisNeuro

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    As someone who grew up in the boonies, in the Midwest, and did have to walk a good distance in the snow to bus stops, I am offended by the cavalier use of this term! ;)
     
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  17. MCParent

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    People on here take time out of their days to provide assistance to people. I could spend the time I spend on here making money instead of replying to anything. Every other professional could, too. We want to be helpful. To be honest, I would not be so egotistical as to think a comment I make on the internet would cause psychic trauma to a poster.
     
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  18. Pragma

    Pragma Neuropsychologist
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    The tone-policing stuff doesn’t make me confident in the future.
     
  19. ExploringOptions

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    I think the problem is mainly limited to a few frequent offenders. There are many threads I have read but won’t comment on due to seeing the downright rude and insulting replies of particular members. Tough advice can be delivered kindly. The overly paternalistic attitude of some members speaks to our culture in general. It also reminds me there is probably a lot of ego involved with those posters. Especially when an OP asks one question and the replies start attacking them for peripheral issues, no what they were asking about. Just as students on here should be careful to present an image they want to reflect, so should the professionals. Anonymity is not what we all think. It’s quite possible someone may suss our your identity. If you are constantly posting arrogant and condescending replies, that may come back on you some day. Don’t be so naive to think just because you are already a practicing professional or a PhD student that you can’t have ramifications for your behavior. It could easily lead to a lost job opportunity or someone not wanting to join your lab or work with you. I definitely think some self-reflection would be a good idea. Stop justifying being nasty. In fact I’d say if you HAVE to come up with a justification you shouldn’t post it in the first place.
     
    #19 ExploringOptions, Feb 8, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  20. ExploringOptions

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    But if you didn’t think what you wrote mattered you wouldn’t bother writing it, correct? It’s certainlt appreciated when people reply, but volunteering your time or expertise is not a justification to be a jerk.
     
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  21. WisNeuro

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    Many of us are not anonymous. Especially in the neuropsych cohort here. I personally know about 10 of the posters on here in real life. I don't think anyone is worried about their job here for benign comments on a forum.
     
  22. ExploringOptions

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    Totally cool. Just saying it could have ramifications later. Perhaps not.
     
  23. WisNeuro

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    My money is on exceedingly doubtful.
     
  24. MCParent

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    Its absolutely justification to not spend an hour trying to make a reply warm and fuzzy so that someone who has already decided that they are more correct about everything than 10 professionals won't feel "offended."

    E.g., someone was horribly offended when I said that it was a financially stupid decision to spend hundreds and hundreds on a fancy TV for internship year instead of just watching Netflix on your laptop. It is a bad decision. I don't know why I am supposed to say that fuzzily.
     
  25. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist
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    I appreciate the conversation being had. We (the moderators) want to foster atmospheres of both helpfulness/support and honesty/candidness. It can be very difficult, depending on one's situation, to receive impartial and genuine feedback and advice on academic and professional issues in psychology, and perhaps even more difficult to obtain such from multiple sources. SDN can also be a great resource for those already practicing to give back to the field, and to remain in touch with the current issues and atmosphere facing students and other trainees.

    As futureapppsy2 noted earlier, if there are concerns about posts, we encourage all users to report them; all reports are reviewed by the moderating staff. And if there are posters whose particular style you don't care for or appreciate, there is also the option to block individual members.
     
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  26. ExploringOptions

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    So the onus is all on the students or non-professionals? I agree we need to be maybe a bit less sensitive sometimes, but tone of replies should also be considered. As no is forcing people to reply as experts, maybe there should be consideration of how replies are made. Constructive feedback or even downright contrary info can of course be hard to receive. Delivering it with a hammer makes it even less likely to be received well and listened to. If the goal of the experts is to guide people seems they might have more influence with less negativity or insinuations posters are stupid. Unless the actual goal of some posters is just to denigrate certain things and make people feel bad about themselves. Only then can I see the reasoning behind the hammer approach.
     
  27. WisNeuro

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    Yes, you can report something if you think it violates the TOS. If it does not, and you do not want to be exposed to it, you are always free to exercise the block option. So yes, in a way, the onus is on the receiver.
     
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  28. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist
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    No, the onus is not entirely on students, nor is it entirely on practicing providers. My recommendation to report posts was not directed at any one group, and was intended to provide an option available to all members. The moderators frequently review the board, but reported posts can help draw our attention to certain discussions that we may not have yet seen.
     
  29. Justanothergrad

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    +1 to not being anonymous on here
    +1 to having been a student many years ago on here with another name
     
  30. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist
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    IMO:

    1) This is not a therapeutic intervention. Those that are looking for such are going to be disappointed.
    A. I think many times some "younger" posters have experience in therapeutic settings.
    B. I think that there is merit to exposing people to the other ways in which psychologists interact.
    2) In this forum, people are getting information. Often the information they get is not what they want to hear. They can do what they want with that information.
    3) Telling people the truth is a kindness. Even if the truth sucks.
    4) Favoring niceness over the truth is mean.
    5) Many posters do not perform due diligence.
    A. If they apply this type of behavior in their educational endeavors, they will likely encounter problems.
    B. This behavior is also favoring one's own time over others.
    6) There are many predators out there that tell people what they want to hear.
    7) There are many paths that could be disastrous for students. Making this extremely clear to those considering such roles is kind, even if it is distressing to hear.
    8) When asking for advice and confronted with facts, opinions, etc, regarding their plans, many posters seem to prefer to attack what others say instead of incorporating this information into their plan or ignoring it. There are almost no places that this is an accepted type of interaction.
    9) There have been many posters who have posted questions, received feedback about how terrible their plan is, reported they changed their plan, and expressed thanks. That should be telling about others reactions.

    IME:

    1) I've had MANY bad ideas in my life. When I've asked trusted people, they've told me my ideas were bad. Most of the time, I've listened and it's benefited me. Sometimes, I've listened and it went poorly. Sometimes, I've listened and still acted upon the bad idea. Most of the time, acting on the bad idea has turned out poorly. Rarely, acting on the bad idea has been a success. Often, acting upon the bad idea is fun.

    2) In my career, I've received negative feedback MANY times. I've been fortunate enough to have senior psychologists, physicians, scientists, and attorneys give very sage critiques. It is unpleasant to hear where you did not live up to your potential. But we don't get better by not hearing feedback. As I have progressed in my area, the feedback has shifted from formal advice to sarcastic critique. If this ends in our careers, I have yet to see when this happens.
     
  31. LadyHalcyon

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    I don't find your posts condescending or aggressive. I see them as more matter-of-fact and straight to the point. I think there is a difference between not sugarcoating information and being a jerk.
     
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  32. cara susanna

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    I do wonder how many people here read the other SDN subforums. We are one of the nicer ones, IMO.
     
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  33. psych.meout

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    At least in my experience from grad school (others can correct me if I'm wrong or if my experience is an outlier), one of the core skills to success is being able to receive supervision and redirection well regardless of the tone or delivery. You need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and see the wisdom and lessons being conveyed. If you can't take blunt criticism or redirection without lashing out or falling apart, it's going to seriously inhibit your training. Coddling trainees and being apprehensive or reticent in offering criticism is not only unhelpful, it could to significant negative consequences, from insurmountable debt to iatrogenic effects for patients.

    This sub is like a hippie commune compared to the Thunderdomes where the physicians and med students reside.
     
  34. WisNeuro

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    I appreciate your perspective, but I assure you that I have been called a jerk on here more than a dozen times :) This exact thread gets played out fairly regularly over the years.
     
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  35. Jegg

    Jegg Join for the whine. Stay for the cheddar.
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    Is it time for pancake therapy yet?
    :ninja:
     
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  36. Pragma

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    In this microcosm, it is clear that people have difficulty tolerating viewpoints that contradict theirs. Expecting people on an internet forum to frame their comments in a way that anticipates any potential negative reaction is ridiculous. There’s a TOS here and if someone violates it then there are consequences. In life, over-interpreting tone will not get you very far.
     
  37. Pragma

    Pragma Neuropsychologist
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    Truth. Iatrogenic effects for patients and for future interactions in the healthcare industry.
     
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  38. StellaB

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    Maybe gender...
     
  39. LadyHalcyon

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    Yes. I would agree.
     
  40. psych.meout

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    Imagine teaching ERP or DBT (especially the irreverence) to the posters trying to tone police this forum.
     
  41. cara susanna

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    Speaking of DBT, I think that we have a dialectic here where both perspectives have validity to them. The thread that inspired this conversation definitely did have some moments that I felt were not productive, somewhat mean-spirited, and not warranted by the OP's responses. That being said, this isn't a clinical setting and we're free to use whatever tone we want as long as we're okay with potential consequences.
     
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  42. Kadhir

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    The most salient issue for me here (not personally, just as an observation) has not been tone, per se. I'm trying to work on that in face-to-face life myself, although I'm northeast city born and bred and that is unlikely to undergo drastic reformation. But I've noticed the unhelpfulness of some responses to sincere questions, which then regresses into an analysis of all the missteps an OP made that led them to their current predicament, with very little in the way of "next steps." It is important to learn from history, and maybe lurkers can avoid some potential mistakes by reviewing this sort of case study of someone else, but I think at times we can do better offering practical advice. Same sass, maybe more substance, if you will.
     
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  43. LadyHalcyon

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    Yes! It seems many responses to legitimate questions take the approach of bashing the OP's opinions and choices. While sometimes the comments are helpful, more often than not it just feels like an opportunity for certain members to remind everyone how amazing their training was and how they made SUCH better life decisions than the OP. The tone seems condescending and bragging, rather than "I'm trying to provide you with information to help you from making a potentially poor decision." I will admit I have become overly defensive at times on this forum, but it takes two to tango.
     
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  44. Justanothergrad

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    As a potential reframe.... Perhaps the goal of a post is not simply to aid a single OP, but also the countless other posters who search the forum as either registered members or anonymous users who may/will stumble across that thread. I'm not sure of anyone who comes on the internet to brag here, quite frankly. Keep in mind that many of the things we post are not so singularly designed as to address the needs of only a single person.

    And no, it doesn't necessarily take two to tango when it comes to perceptions. It frequently involves two, but it doesn't require it.
     
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  45. StellaB

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    I’ve been a user of this site since I was a prospective student. For reference, I never had any interest in a for-profit school, and applied only to funded PhDs and moved several times for training, which I expected at the outset. I was still incredibly put off by the tone here, particularly as a first generation college student. All too frequently here, good advice is wrapped up in grandiose nonsequitors about how rich and successful the psychologist is, or worse - a combo of this plus how the prospective student is somehow not good enough. It is terrifying to see this when you’re on the outside hoping to get in, even when you are qualified and don’t have entitlement about the field. There are more people reading this forum than posting on it, and our tone should matter to us. As a teacher, I have considered sending my good students here for ideas about their professional development, and then I think of the tone and I choose not to, because I don’t want to be professionally associated with it.

    That said, I don’t actually see anyone here saying the feedback shouldn’t be direct and honest. I try very hard to give direct and honest feedback to the people who don’t realize what an awful idea it is to attend a FSFP. There’s a wide range of possibilities between “sugar-coating” and being a “jerk.”

    If you want to be a jerk on here to blow off some steam, fine, no normal person is going to be psychologically injured by that. But it cheapens this board, which is a very useful resource and doesn’t have to feel like a jeering boys club if we don’t want it to.
     
  46. StellaB

    7+ Year Member

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    I love DBT, particularly irreverence bc it’s a natural fit with my personality irl. I don’t see people’s concerns here as attempts to “tone-police,” rather to examine the culture of the board and how well it fits with the goals and purpose. I urge you to consider the kernel of truth in the comments asking for improved sensitivity.

    There is certainly danger posed to our field by the idea that no one should ever be offended. There is also a brewing legitimacy crisis for psychology when we are so closed off culturally that our field lacks representative diversity. Again, this is not an argument for “sugar-coating” or “tone-policing,” but surely we are all elevated by the challenge to deliver messages in a manner that maximizes the receivers’ ability and willingness to hear it, and stay invested in the conversation.
     
    memedoctor, Mannbri, Kadhir and 4 others like this.
  47. LadyHalcyon

    LadyHalcyon SDN Bronze Donor
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    I really appreciate your POV. I know there are so many lurkers here that, for whatever reason, choose not to share. I think there is value in having a variety of opinions and sometimes it feels like an echo chamber in here.
     
    foreverbull and StellaB like this.
  48. Pragma

    Pragma Neuropsychologist
    Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Inferring tone based on typed text, thresholds for what one considers “offensive”, thresholds for what one considers “aggressive”, style/reasons for posting, degree of projecting based on personal experiences and perceptions - all play a role here.
     
    StellaB likes this.
  49. LadyHalcyon

    LadyHalcyon SDN Bronze Donor
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    It doesn't always take two. But many times I will see students (myself included) become defensive after someone makes an unnecessary and downright mean remark. I acknowledge I have also seen students become defensive when people disagree with their perspective in a matter-of-fact way.
     
    StellaB likes this.
  50. Synard

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    I tend to agree with the "Echo chamber" statement made further up. A valuable skill for anyone to learn (regardless of status or profession) is recognizing that information that is contrary to our already held thoughts and beliefs is not necessarily bad or a personal attack. In addition, unsolicited feedback is common in the profession (especially when you are a student) - Been there, done that - It's not always helpful, but it's not always unhelpful either.
     

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