Here's the attitude I like to have when dealing with people, either in
person or on the internet (I don't always succeed though):
1. Respect the other person to the extent of recognizing that she's most
probably doing the best she knows how with what she has.
2. Assume that the other people respect me (this makes a huge difference
in the way I interpret messages--someone can call me an asshole, and if I
interpret their statement through this filter, it's like water rolling off a
3. In the case of messages which seem to be sarcastic in a mean way,
respond to them as though the writer was being sincere (there's the risk
here of appearing to be "simple" minded, but I've found it better to run
that risk than to run the risk of alienating someone by coming back with a
snappy response, especially if it turns out that the person WAS actually
4. If a message seems irrational, hold off responding to it for a day or
two (I like Amara's Pause That Refreshes idea--this is along the same lines
5. This last one's sort of weird, but I find that it works for me. If I've
lost my cool and gotten REALLY MAD at someone, and I find myself mulling
over cruel things to say to them, I ask myself something like, "What if this
person is suffering from a serious mental illness, and the mean thing I say
pushes them over the edge and they snap and start killing people or kill
themselves?" I guess this thought occurs to me because I've seen it
happen--not to me, but to someone I knew. She said something very mean to
her husband, and he shot her through the head. How much better it would
have been to just keep quiet and leave!
6. Keep ideas as the subject of debate, not personalities. I had a friend
who got a job selling an encyclopedia door to door. As part of his
training, he had to read a book called _The Art of Manipulation_. I don't
know whether it's still in print, but if it is, I'd highly recommend it.
Not to say I'm in favor of manipulating people, but the book has some great
advice about getting along with people. On the subject of disagreeing with
people it suggests the following approach: G says something you think is
wrong. You say, "Well, G, you know, 9 times out of 10 I'd agree with you.
But I think you may be overlooking a couple of things in the present case."
I've tried this with friends, and even though we all know the line and know
what the other person's doing when they start out like that, it's amazing
how it facilitates getting across a controversial idea. And it's not like
you're lying. You probably WOULD agree with most people about many things,
especially on a mailing list of people with similar interests.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> [mailto:email@example.com]On Behalf Of Anders Sandberg
> Sent: Sunday, June 25, 2000 7:16 AM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Debate
> I hope transhumanists are judged more on what they do than what they
> merely claim to be.
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