6

I frequent a chatroom with a small community. Many types of discussions occur that I don't usually join in on. It's partially because I often don't feel like contributing because what I have to say might have been already said.

But on occasion, I do have something extremely important to add. However, because I usually don't contribute/I frequently fool around in the chatroom people seem to have gotten an impression from me that I don't know/haven't experienced many things and I'm not credible.

However, That is incorrect. I can tell just by the conversations they have that I know a significant amount more (or can reason better depending on the circumstance, like this one below) I'm not trying to "toot my own horn" but I do very much feel like I am more knowledgeable in general than most of the chatroom. An example of a conversation that was had recently is summarized below.


person A: There's a kid from school who's extremely dumb and once spring break is over I'm going to go sock him right in the kisser

Person B: Instead of hitting him first you should wait for him to hit you then you should hit him.

Person C: Yes. That's the only option available when it comes to these kinds of people.

Me: Actually that's one of many and is probably not the best option seeing as how both person A and the kid from school will get in trouble. It would be much better if...

(cut of by person C and B)

Person C: No I've dealt with this kind of person before, giving them a wooping is the only solution.

Person B: Yes that's very true. Im sorry, but I don't think you really understand the situation.

Me: If you would just let me finish I coul...

(cut of by person A)

Person A: No, I bet you haven't even gotten into a fight before. You don't understand the situation and you need to stop talking.

(I do understand the situation and I have been in a similar one but because I haven't spoken up and people do not accept my views I can't help.)

Several hours later...

Person A: I can't wait till I sock that kid.

(enter person D, an adult that the chatroom accepts as intelligent, reasonable and respectable. Note that in the earlier conversation at some point I was labelled as immature and underdeveloped for trying to suggest a similar course of action as person D.)

Person D: What's this about hitting someone?

Person A: Yes there's a kid at school who deserves it (describes person and situation/plan for getting revenge.)

Person D: It would be much better to record this person and sending it to a figure of authority. That way you can get your cake and eat it too. Socking them is going to hurt your experience as well as theirs.

Me: That's what I was going to say!

Person A: (sees I am present and most likely subconciously stops accepting information) NO THAT WON'T WORK YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND THERE'S ONLY ONE OPTION AND IT'S TO SOCK THE KID

Person D: (Tries to reason)

...*


As you might see, whenever I attempt to contribute/reason to the benefit of the subject I get rejected on the basis of "you don't know". This kind of conversation happens over 4 times a week and every time I either don't contribute or if I do my input is rejected. I have also been insulted on similar premises by multiple people.

(I included the Harassment tag because at this point that's what this feels like.)

How can I convince people that I'm perfectly capable of contributing and in many cases more capable then the other chatters without parading around the chatroom typing in full caps "I'M CAPABLE"?

  • 1
    Is the example a common chatroom pattern for you, with similar lead-ins before typing out the idea you're intending to express? – Upper_Case Mar 10 at 21:44
  • @Upper_Case yes it is. – SlothsAndMe Mar 10 at 22:27
4

I think there are a few things to consider in addition to the points made in Kate Gregory's excellent answer. The biggest thing to watch out for is how you contribute. Let's take a look at your first message in that conversation.

Actually that's one of many and is probably not the best option seeing as how both person A and the kid from school will get in trouble. It would be much better if...

The word "actually" is a huge turn off in this situation, because it makes you come off as a know-it-all. I struggled with this a lot in high school. I was the class valedictorian and it was obvious in conversations that I was smarter than most of my peers. Nobody took issue with me being smarter than they were, but I was fairly unpopular because I was fairly rude in the way that I would display my intelligence. I spoke very similarly to the way you did in the conversation in your question. When people said things that were factually incorrect, I would correct them with logic, because I thought that would be helpful for them.

It was later explained to me that most people don't value correctness the way I do, especially in casual conversation. When I was correcting people, it made me come off as arrogant and condescending. When you are going to contribute to a conversation, don't start by contradicting what has been said. Instead of telling someone that they are wrong, offer a solution and allow them to come to their own conclusions.

Have you tried X?

You get the exact same message across that X is a potential solution to the problem, but there's nothing to make them feel as if you are condescending towards what they've already contributed to the conversation.

When I got to college I stopped correcting everyone, because I knew that I didn't want the same know-it-all label I had in high school. When I was in high school I spent a lot of time trying to prove to everyone that I was very smart. The end result was that they thought I was arrogant and a jerk. In college, my friend and I had a saying when it came to online gaming

If someone has to tell you that they are good at something, then they're probably actually bad at it

I took this to heart and stopped trying to prove to people that I was smart. What I found was that those around me were more open to my suggestions and also more likely to give me the validation that I was looking for about my intelligence.

9

It sounds like what you want to contribute is "don't do that". Groups of people, and especially groups of teenagers, rarely accept these sorts of contributions. The two major retorts from such groups are "you are too young/immature and wouldn't yet understand why we are doing that, because you haven't been in this situation" and "you are too old and out of touch to know how things are these days", which they may think rather than saying if the contributor is an authority figure.

It is often important to teenagers like you to tell people when they are "doing it wrong" even when they know intellectually that the contribution won't be well received. As we get older we learn three things: when not to bother telling people they're wrong, when not to feel bad when our contribution is inaccurately rejected, and how to get our contributions rejected less often. It is this third thing I would like to tell you about today.

First trick: listen and learn before concluding. Don't start with your conclusion that it would be better if... -- they don't want to hear it yet. Ask what he did. Agree that it's outrageous, or ask why it's outrageous if you can't see why at the beginning. Ask if other people have done similar things in the past and what happened to them. If what happened is they got punched, ask if that put a stop to it. Ask why this kid has done this thing even though the previous person got punched. Let them educate you; people like to do that. Then ask if anyone ever takes whatever you think is a sensible alternative such as reporting the kid, possibly after gathering video proof. [Important: do not say "sensible alternative" or otherwise show your opinion while asking. Good: "did anyone ever get this on video?" Bad: "what about something simple and easy like getting this on video? wouldn't that be better?"] They may tell you how that failed once, or some other reason not to do it. They may say "that sounds like an even better idea!" You see, you didn't take the position "YOU MUST VIDEO HIM AND REPORT IT" so they didn't feel an automatic need to push back against a direct order from you.

Second, if your questions have led them to change their plans, don't demand credit. Don't say "see? I knew there was a better way than punching!" Credit builds up in very small doses, over time. The more they explain to you, the smarter they will think you are. (And you may in fact learn some subtleties from what they tell you.)

Third, if someone else joins in and suggests exactly what you did, don't interrupt to say you suggested that and this proves you are right. LISTEN. Listen to the wording this person uses to make their suggestion. Do they ask questions? Do they provide "what's in it for you" benefit to the other person, or just appeal to right and wrong, or the rules, or consequences? Who do they address their comments to? How do they respond when people say "yeah, but, no, but, yeah, but, we can't do that"?

Fourth, find something to talk to these people about that they want to hear from you. It doesn't have to be how they are doing it wrong or whatever else you are jumping in on. It could be what the weather is like where you are, or which store at the mall has a big sale this weekend, or who you saw on the 3rd floor last week that wasn't supposed to be there, or whatever. Listen to what sort of things they accept from each other and see if you have something like that you can contribute that doesn't have any kind of value judgement in it. This will get them in the habit of including you in the group and give them a chance to get to know your maturity and capability when there is no conflict.

  • 1
    Excellent advice! I don't only say "No you're wrong and I'm right." or solely try to contribute "Don't do that" I try to explain things to people but am frequently met with opposition! I do see your point though in being even less critical of others to gain their favour. – SlothsAndMe Mar 10 at 22:41
  • it's not to "gain their favour". It's because most people aren't interested in spending time with someone whose primary mode of interaction is to be critical. You probably aren't. If you want them to like you, why are you critical of them? If you think they deserve mostly criticism, why do you care whether they value your opinion or not? – Kate Gregory Mar 17 at 17:49

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