5 Replies Latest reply on Apr 15, 2013 7:08 AM by Melissa.Rosen

    The dark side of transparency: ending the circular conversation

    jessekane

      In any of our company sponsored Jive spaces,  I 100% welcome critical feedback and use it to make improvements when possible. My challenge is we have a very small number of people who continue the conversation long after the relevant points have been made. For example:

       

      1. User: A doesn't work and B is wrong.
      2. Me: Thanks for reporting A. Here's why the company chose B.

      3. User: You should do C because your B explanation is unsatisfactory to me.

      4. Me: Here's some more reasons we chose B.

      5. User: In that case, do D or maybe E because I still think B is wrong.

      6. Etc, etc, etc.

       

      I generally just stop participating in the conversation when I feel the it has reached it's natural conclusion. But I'd like to hear other people's suggestions or experiences to stop someone from beating a virtual dead horse.

        • Re: The dark side of transparency: ending the circular conversation
          laurabecraft

          Great question and I'm also curious what others have to say on the topic.  I've actually searched for some "etiquette guide" along these lines and thought about creating my own.  Usage policies really don't cover the actions a user needs to take to end a discussion like this gracefully.

           

          Our community is really young (about a year) and this is really the first time that our employees have had this level of visibility and ability to openly comment and have discussions.  Aside from how I deal with it as a Community Manager responding to questions about the tool, I also get questions from other users on how they should respond to questions they post about other topics, like HR, Facilities, etc.  You can imagine how rambunctious the HR topics get :-)

           

          The etiquette for virtual conversations really shouldn't be any different than they are for physical ones, yet we have some users who like to take advantage of their new virtual forum  by continuing threads well past the point that they should.   While I really like the ability to @mention people to bring them into discussions, I've also seen it used to put people on the spot and as a frantic play to get attention and continue the discussion. Then it becomes "I'm going to go get my big brother" or "Well that person ignored me so blah, blah, blah".

           

          Mostly though, if it's obvious the person isn't going to stop, then I stop, which is equal to walking away, I guess.  I think other users do the same though I know a few have taken some conversations offline if they got too unruly.

           

          As Community Managers, I think it's as great topic to explore and come up with some best practices for ourselves and for our users.

          1 person found this helpful
          • Re: The dark side of transparency: ending the circular conversation
            it2000

            Also with emails one can generate never-ending discussions, there one (or more) "offline" real live meeting is likely required to sort things out.

            At "4.": Motivate the "User" to @mention and convince someone (your boss) to change the decision, and point out that you can not change it. If the idea is really brilliant than the user will likely do it and the company will get some benefit.

            1 person found this helpful
            • Re: The dark side of transparency: ending the circular conversation
              Dennis Pearce

              Many years ago our mayor here in Lexington, KY had a program she called "Speak Out Lexington," in which each year there would be some topic like how to improve schools or which social services to focus on, and there would be a series of community discussions held around town in schools, churches, community centers, etc.  I trained as a facilitator, so I got to do several of them.  Regardless of topic, the format was always the same.  We would ask these three questions with time for discussion after each one:

              • What problems do you see?
              • What can be done about them?
              • What can you do?

               

              Every single time, there was tremendous discussion and argument after the first two, but dead silence after the third.  It's funny how quiet people get when they might have to do some work to get what they want.  So one solution to this problem might be to think of questions to ask the dead horse-beater that require some action on their part:

              • "I gave you my reasons for our decision.  Do you have any data or research we should be aware of that shows why your solution is better?"
              • "Our team doesn't have a budget for making this change.  Can you get your organization to justify the cost for switching?"
              • "This was a corporate consensus decision, but if you can get your executive management to support your position, we might be willing to revisit it."

               

              In other words, it should be something that (1) requires some effort on the part of the whiner but (2) also is honest and legitimate, not just snarky "go get me a million dollars and then we'll talk."  What would really make you rethink your position?  No harm in asking for that.

               

              Chances are the other person will just go away, because they never really wanted to do the work required to make the change, or they know you're right but just don't like it and so they're griping.  But on the off chance that they actually do get the data or money or executive support or whatever, maybe the decision really was worth reconsidering and your company has benefited from the discussion -- win/win all around, because on your side you've remained friendly, attentive, and flexible no matter what the outcome while the other side has either seen their argument evaporate or done some real work and finally contributed meaningfully to the discussion.

              2 people found this helpful
                • Re: The dark side of transparency: ending the circular conversation
                  nbussard

                  I was going to suggest you simply post a photo of a dead horse as your next response. Dennis's idea is much better.

                   

                  On a more serious note, I also find that discussions tend to tamp down when you can get one or more other people involved. That is, if it has just turned into a back and forth between you and this other person, see if you can ping a couple of other people to weigh in. They can be friendly and somewhat neutral, but help the other person see how it might be a good idea to drop it. The appearance of consensus has worked well for us.

                  1 person found this helpful
                • Re: The dark side of transparency: ending the circular conversation
                  Melissa.Rosen

                  love all of these answers! thanks so much for sharing, I am sure we'll be using some of these ideas in the future!