Discussion Arguing

When Is Discussion Healthy or Unhealthy?

Discussion ArguingI’m trying to work out whether I’m a fan of discussion or not.  I like a good old chinwag, and brainstorm.  But discussion?  There is a strong tendency in me to want ‘efficiency’;  So a part of me kicks in with ‘seriously, isn’t it obvious?’, but clearly it really often isn’t!

A ‘healthy’ discussion to me is where both sides learn things; either to understand other perspectives, or to shift theirs a little.  It’s where all parties are confident enough in themselves to be open to new ideas, and to not need to convince other people of their ‘right-itude’ (you know what I mean – the fact that they are more right than anyone else in the conversation).

To me an ‘unhealthy’ discussion is where no one hears each other, everyone is stuck in their ‘right-itude’ so it starts to descend quickly into a personal attack.

But I’m seeing as I write this that if there’s to be discussion, there is bound to be a bit of both ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ in it.  I wonder whether my concern over this has sometimes limited my blog, because I’ll often cover all aspects, rather than leave it to be discussed in the comments?

There have been a lot of incidents over the past few months that have got me thinking, in particular about discussion amongst Mums:

There was a big spat when someone called ‘Real Mum’ (great right-itude name) had a go at one of the newer bloggers, Mammasaurus.  It was just plain old nasty ‘Mums judging Mums’ stuff, quickly descended into bullied victim + persecutor scenario.  But if we all learnt to control our outbursts, would the mummy blogging community literally get bored?

There’s bitching behind the scenes in the mummy blogging community about ‘blagger’s as well.   A number of people commented on a post I wrote called ‘I’m a blagger blogger, fancy joining me‘, without actually reading it, just desperate to not be associated with the term; so not much discussion there.

It’s not just Mummy Bloggers, celeb Mums love to have a good go to; Sally Bercow insulted Kirstie Allsopp in the Daily Mail: which to me felt like a complete waste of time.  Plus publicly slagging off another mother, in a society where Mums aren’t regarded with deep respect anyway, is surely going to just make matters worse?

Twitter is full of spats between celeb mums taking umbrage at someone else using a different parenting technique.  Half of them ended up in the big brother house together, where they realised surprise surprise ‘she’s actually quite nice’!  Perhaps the short written word like Twitter, Facebook or blogs isn’t ideal for discussion?

There’s been some neighbourhood incidents where Mums bitterly fell out mainly due to a lack of empathy for different scenarios, ages, relationship lengths, no’s of children and financial situations.  There was absolutely no discussion which is probably why it went all tits up.  Perhaps ‘pastures new’ will be good for the Mums though?

Whereas there was another little spat in the blogging community back on Mammasaurus’s blog (she must be the lucky one heh!), which seemed to be respectfully resolved in the whole discussion/commenting process between the parties, with the slagging off commenting well controlled.  Perhaps that was a good example of where it’s wise to get things out in the open and discuss them, otherwise it could have become really gruesome in a few months time?

I experienced being involved in a blogging community discussion after launching my ‘Mums Standing Up Together‘ campaign.  I’d approached all the mummy blogging communities, but was more obviously supported by Britmums in their blogging prompts.  Blimey do these women know how to press buttons and get the discussion going.  Initially I was disconcerted (not upset) by the feeling that there were people writing about what I’d said and misunderstanding it.  After lots of tea I decided it had been useful to ensure that I was really clear about what I meant.

At home there are plenty of ‘discussions’ between me and the hubby.  Over 22yrs I’ve tried all sorts of things, like raising issues every couple of months (a bit like the big blow ups in the blogging community), or just compromising and keeping my opinions to myself which isn’t so good for my own identity.  A constant regular stream of little discussions before they blow up seems like the best compromise for us.  It’s unrealistic to not expect misunderstandings between the southern cheeriness of me and the hairy northernness of him.

Finally I saw a conversation on twitter where a mum took umbrage at Kelly Rose Bradford’s article in the Daily Mail and was pulled up for publicly criticising her (the joy of twitter!).  Kelly didn’t reply to all the nasty comments on the Daily Mail and said that ‘I wrote it purely to spark a debate‘, plus that all her family and friends understood her job.  This was a HUGE eye opener to me, because she saw the debate as the objective, whereas I see the resulting consensus or agreement to differ as the objective.  This is potentially where I’ve often been going ‘wrong’.  She didn’t feel the worry that I had about being misunderstood.  What a huge revelation!

I blogged recently about setting Life Priorities for the chinese new year, maybe I need clear ‘people priorities’, so that I can be clear on who it matters understand me?

Oh and it definitely convinced me that photo’s are massively important, because that is one bad photo of you Kelly!  Anyone fancy doing a photo shoot for me in return for a blog post, because mine looks a bit too ‘nice’ (back to the blagging!).

What blogs my readers read: Sex, Decluttering, David Tennant and School Problems

Did I mention I’m a finalist for the MAD Blogger awards in their Small Business Category, LoL?  Really, you didn’t hear me shouting about it and jumping up and down in an excited and bouncy way?!  If not, then read here … and vote for me, and then TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW to vote for me.  Ok, so maybe that’s a bit extreme, but seriously, some of the blogs I’m up against have a massive readership, so I need all the help I can get!

As part of all this, I have to send in an example of which represent me the best.  Of course, it’s a bit confusing, because there is a difference between my regular readers, and the people who find me via google and all sorts of dubious search terms.  But I’m really surprised by what’s most popular!

At the moment the choice seems to be between ..

So basically, to improve my stats I need more video messages from sexy men?  I can see how that might be a priority, and will get working on it immediately!  But you also want your houses decluttered?  Only then do you want to have sex with your husbands, and if you have a bit of time left then you might try to sort out your kids problems at school?

I suspect, that it’s actually a bit counter-intuitive, and that what is going on is that the stress of worrying about our kids, sends us to watch sexy actors and try to control our lives by decluttering.  The whole sex with the husband thing, is basically a ‘gotta do’ in order to maintain a relationship, and so when that is out of the way, we can manage to think about the newest worries of the day and what new challenges our kids are facing.

You guys do seem to like the Weekly Weight Loss tips a bit, especially the one with the webinar.  And I get a lot of feedback about the weekly Exhaustion Tips on twitter.  I’m thinking that those are probably more of a hit with my regulars, as is the Video Wednesday short posts?  Surprisingly in an era of recession, not many people are going for a free 30mins of my time with the Question Corner yet; don’t forget you can do it anonymously by emailing me at Lisa at MummyWhisperer dot com.  All the stuff I wrote about Affairs is popular, but I suspect that is from general internet searches.  But it does surprise me that it comes about affairs more than bullying.

Over time I’ve written nearly 150 posts and had nearly 1000 comments (but at least 50% was spam!) and my first post was 2 years ago on the 9th of May, just as I was also falling pregnant with Little Dimples.  Did you have a favourite?

So, I’ve loved blogging, and it looks like all my hard work and plans for world domination could be actually beginning to pay off!  I hope that I’ve helped lots of Mums out there with my posts, that’s certainly my plan, because with a blog I can reach more Mums than with my 1to1’s and programs.   I’m hoping that it’s onwards and upwards, and that soon the message that all Mums are fabulous and deserve to have sparkly in their lives will spread further.

Meme: ‘Your Welcome’

Having only just written my first Meme post, I’ve just been sent another, which is very timely, as I’m in the first stages of labour (how long is a piece of string time!), and it has been a useful thing to have a thought gradually cogitating in my head, especially as it is about something very close to my heart ‘Community’.  Plus I must say that I was really chuffed to be sent the Meme by Sally Whittle from ‘whose the mummy’, who in our ‘community’ of mummy blogging, is one of the ‘big guns’!

In return I’m tagging these 3 blogs with the meme, Muddling Along Mummy (because I know that she will have an interesting perspective on women in hardcore industry in london, plus mummy blogging), Being a Mummy (because I know she has struggled with the growth of the mummy blogging world, and finds conflict hard to deal with), and Metropolitan Mum (because of her interest in the fashion world, and it’s affects on women).  I do know these Mummy bloggers, so it’s probably not a surprise that I’ve tagged them, however, I’m still picking them because feel that they will give interesting insights to the idea of community.

The 3 new blogs that I’m suggesting you guys take a look at are: ‘Single Motherhood Challenges’ who has been blogging for a while, but only just announced herself on BMB, ‘Modern Jedi‘ just incase you fancied something a bit different, and ‘The Business of the story’ just incase you fancy a rather poetic australian mummy’s blog to read (I’ve only been reading her ‘business of my life’ blog up until now, so I didn’t know about this one).

Here are the rules of the meme:

  • Everyone: Visit the new blogs I’ve introduced you to. If you like them, subscribe!
  • The blogs I tagged: Recommend three new blogs you’ve discovered and loved
  • The blogs I tagged: Tag three other bloggers and ask them for three new blog reads on the meme of ‘Your welcome’.

Why I Love Communities

I love creating communities, Sally was absolutely right about that, and recently realised that I’ve therefore tended to make my life really difficult by trying to create them from less willing victims!  However much some people say they may like communities, if their behaviour does not encourage their growth, then it’s not really in their value system.  Why do some people like them and some people not?  It’s really simple, community is close to the top of my values list (what we love to be, do, or have in our lives), and our values come from stuff that we thought or felt was missing at some point.  So the other people, have never noticed that community was missing, whereas I obviously did.  Getting this meme made me wonder why, so I looked back, and back and back.  It’s a pretty core value with me, so it must have come from my childhood, and there I found it.  A Mum (see my blogs under the ‘about me category) who used a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, which meant that there wasn’t much sense of togetherness in our family, added to being a ‘young carer’, which made me a bit different and therefore a bit of an outsider in the school world.

So there it is, the reason why my IT firm had me at the centre of an enterprise to connect people round the world using internet chat products over 15yrs ago; The many hours on internet forums for Reiki;  How come I ended up on the council for the type of kinesiology I studied;    The driver for creating the first ever email forum for the Demartini Method (my training for the past 7yrs).  And finally my recently found love of blogging & tweeting.  It’s even sneakily sitting behind the whole purpose to my ‘Mummy Whisperer’ program.  Yes, I offer services to Mums to help them in their own small communities, of their families.  But to be honest I have BIG plans!  My long term aim is to join together with big names in the world of Mums, and create a strategy for empowering Mums to become a force to be reckoned with in the UK.  Why?  After all there is global warming, wars, viruses, all sorts of more important things.  The reason is because of a report I read by Ernst & young a while ago, which coincides with my love of balance.  They basically suggested that the companies and countries who will recover quickest from this recession, are those with the greatest diversity and lowest gender gap.  (Gender gap is basically the difference between the positions/power/pay/education of the men & women in the society).  So therefore by having a BALANCE of power (not all male, not all female), we can ensure that our children are more likely to survive the challenges that life throws at them.

Myths of Community

There are some misconceptions about the reality of a community that I have discovered over the years, which suffocate them.

1) You should put the community first. Big no no!  It will always go wrong if you put the community before yourself, because we then get so over tired and drained, that we actually become a weight on the community ourselves.

2) That we should all agree in the community. Because this is an impossibility, as the community grows it becomes more and more difficult.  There will always be as many people disagreeing as agreeing with you in life.  As the community grows, it is quite likely that you will therefore find both within the community.  Without this, the community becomes a weird cult like creature, so it is totally necessary.  However, because we tend to focus on who is disagreeing with us and ignore the opposite (who are sometimes silent), we tend to get upset and even leave.

3) Cliques are bad. It is human nature to start creating smaller groups within a big group as it grows.  But that does not mean that they are shutting everyone out.  It just means that for some people they literally can’t cope with a large number of people in their close group.  I’ve seen it happen in my crescent, where all the Mums used to get together with their kids, and then suddenly people started to get ‘left out’ because it got to a stage where a couple of Mums couldn’t cope with the size of the group.  I remember not being in the popular clique at school, but I never thought to focus on the fact that I had my own clique of nerds.  When we had our 20yr school reunion, the ‘popular’ girls greeted me with real enthusiasm, because they had no concept of the boundaries, they were actually fond of the fact that we all had different ‘roles’.  Ironically, a few years ago we moved to a small village where for the first time I was actually part of the ‘trendy’ clique.  It gave me a HUGE reality check about the downsides of being in there!  So, if you want to be in a clique, my advice is ‘suck it up’, be brave, work out what they like so you can sell yourself to them, and go for it, especially if it is in the school car park!  But remember, you are also in a clique, are you so sure that the other one would be ‘better’?

4) Sisterhood. In the UK I don’t see much sisterhood going on in the Mummy world.  Men seem perfectly capable of doing the ‘ra ra’ old boys network, at the same time as competing with each other, and have no hard feelings.  Whereas women have a tendency to really stick the knife in.  The reason is because we feel disempowered at times, and therefore as we see a lack of power, we are unwilling to share it.  The shame is that this is based upon a misunderstanding.  There is no lack of power, and no one but ourselves is getting in the way of us.  This is totally something I am planning on working on over the next couple of years ;o)

So there you go, my thoughts on community, the 3 blogs I’ve tagged to continue the thoughts and the 3 new blogs I’m welcoming.  I’m off now to focus more on my own little family community and the arrival of it’s newest member ;o)