Tips on how to be comfortable on SF
Being on a forum can be hard enough, let alone a forum where most people are hurting a great deal. There are things that we can do to make things as comfortable for ourselves, as others, as possible which generally makes it easier all round.
~Try to treat others as you wish to be treated yourself.
~Think carefully before you write. People on here are often in great distress and its very easy for communication to be misinterpreted. Anything you say needs to be clearly exactly what you mean to minimise the chance of confusion and accidental hurt.
~If you want to get to know people, just jump right in. It can be hard to join a new forum, or return to a forum, or make friends and things like that. This is a friendly place, so just feel free to start posting. The Coffee House can be a good place to start in a relaxed way, but equally, the support forums can be a good place to get to know people too.
~Don't be scared to post if you need help. This is the place to reach out and get some support; don't be afraid to do that. SF is a place you can be heard and validated.
~Try not to stick to 'safe' people. It can be easy for perceived cliques to form on any forum, which can make it uncomfortable for most members. Reaching out and replying or talking to different people can open up more for us, as well as for others.
~Remember that everyone here is valuable. That means remembering it for yourself and also for others. If you feel able, try to reply to threads from someone who needs support but does not have many replies, even if its just a 'I hear you'. That can make the difference.
~If someone winds you up, try not to react instantly. Sometimes we get wound up or someone deliberately or accidently winds us up. Before responding to the person try to take a step back, take some deep breaths, maybe go away from the computer and distract yourself for a bit and come back and then reply when you are cooler and calmer and able to articulate a more rational response, as opposed to a response based on impulse- which can often be damaging to both people.
~Visitor boards and PMs can be a great way to get to know someone more. They can be a great tool for reaching out to people.
~Remember that the mods are there to help. If you have an issue with someone, or a thread, or a post, then don't be afraid to contact the mods.
~Don't be afraid to use the Ignore Feature. The Ignore Feature is found on your control panel, down the left hand side. If someone upsets you, or makes you feel uncomfortable, or triggers you, or anything negative at all, then remember you can use it. It's there to make like easier for you.
~Try not to take things personally. It's very easy when you have a group of vulnerable people to think that someone is getting at you, or bitching at/about you, but often that's not the case. If you think someone is, then take it to the mods, or politely ask the person to explain more or ask if you have taken it as they meant it, to hopefully iron out any miscommunications or misinterpretations.
~Try not to make assumptions about things that are said (or not said). Often assumptions can lead to confusion and hurt or someone feeling they haven't been heard. If you feel its appropriate to make an assumption on a thread then welcome the person to correct you if you are wrong so that it doesn't offend the other person in anyway.
~Try not to judge others or yourself. It can be hard when people are in situations you don't understand, or don't agree with, or say something you disagree with, but judging someone can make things harder for them. Try to be nonjudgemental in anything you say to someone, especially about sensitive subjects. To quote a phrase 'it is what it is'.
~If you reply to a support post, try to work out what the person wants from their thread. If you can work out what someone wants then it can make replying easier. Does s/he want to be heard? Does s/he want some company? Does s/he want constructive advice? Does s/he want to feel validated?
~Remember that each person posting is a real person. That sounds very silly and trivial but sometimes it can be easier to be 'harsher' or 'ruder' to a faceless name, but every single person here is a worthy person, who has feelings and needs to be treated with care- same as you do.
~Try not to compare others problems with your own or anyone else's. Comparing problems inevitably leads to someone feeling invalidated (sometimes ourselves, sometimes someone else), and no one needs that. The issue is not what the problem is perceived to be, but how it makes someone feel- That, is the important thing.
~Essentially, as with anywhere else in life communication is so important. Don't be afraid to ask questions, or approach people, or state your opinion (its ok if that opinion differs from someone else's). If you are communicating as clearly as you can, then that's the best anyone can do.
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