Opinions in the wind

I find the whole concept of online trolling truly bizarre. That there are a group of people out there who willingly seek out to connect with a person with the sole intention of causing them distress. Intentional distress. What’s going wrong in these people’s lives that they think this is a valid way to express themselves and connect with others?

Which is why, in the main, I’m glad that I don’t write anything truly controversial, or divisive, or upsetting to others. I have opinions on lots of things, and choose to share them via different media. On Twitter, I tend to express myself on lots of topics because I’m quite aware that it’s a transient medium. A tweet can get lost in the timeline because it can.

But here, on my blog, I’m far more cautious. People can seek out my opinion. So I express my opinions which don’t matter to many people. The only people who care about what I write are a very small population in the big bad world, and if I got trolled by anyone, I’d probably hunt them down and shake their hand or something.

So, it surprised me the other week to learn that I may have potentially with little intent and no malice but it happened all the same caused various people I know in my network to be cautious about their voice in social media.

Yo, no one should have that level of influence.

I have shared, quite widely and openly, that I have a very low opinion of NLP.

And I have done this knowing that there are many L&Ders who are trained in various levels of NLP. And, many of these people I would consider, friends, good people and good L&Ders.

Here’s the thing. If you choose to practise NLP as a way of working for you, and as a way of helping and supporting others, then I can only applaud that. Everyone needs help in this world, and there’s nothing worse, for me, than demonising others.

I just choose to believe something about this particular mental model of the world. I find its efficacy and its claims to be wild, and I find the evangelism that goes with it to be bizarre. There are a good many folk who don’t care about those things, because it works well for them.

Just like I think homeopathy is complete nonsense. I know many people who swear by it, and live perfectly healthy lives. It has incredibly low medical verification of any kind, and for me that matters. For many others, that doesn’t mean a thing.

There are things I’m perfectly willing to change my mind on. Like when I wrote about whether learning is about performance, or that there should be one definite route into L&D. I wrote something, got some valued input, and changed my thinking. I’m allowed to do that.

It will take more convincing for me to buy into NLP as a legitimate way of thinking.

I’m highly aware that I’m using language which caveats my openness to NLP.

I’m also highly aware that when I talk about positive psychology, the same claims of evangelism could be levelled at me.

What I don’t want though, truly, is for anyone I know, respect, socialise with, regard a friend, to be uncomfortable with me because I have this bias. I have opinions on certain religions (like Scientology), and prejudices and biases on a whole range of topics – just like we all do. What I think I’m careful of, though, is not letting them affect my actual behaviour. Dialogue helps, challenge helps, support helps, different thinking helps, and I’m always interested to know more.

This is my blog. My thinking space. I happen to enjoy sharing that openly. What I think, and what I do are often two very different things. In particular, what I write doesn’t always reflect what I think. My thinking process happens outside of my head. That’s where I get clarity on things. So when I write things down, it’s like I’m talking to a friend who understands me. And, for me, it’s about making sense of what I’m thinking. Like I said once before, I just happen to be someone who enjoys thinking outside of their head rather than in it.

So to anyone who I’ve put at arms length because of my opinion on NLP, this is an invitation. It’s an invitation to understand me a bit better. It’s an invitation to say, please don’t not promote your NLP skills because I express an opinion about it.

And what’s the lesson we can learn from this blog post? That if you’re an NLP practitioner, who follows Scientology and practices homeopathy, we’re gonna really struggle to get along.

ADDENDUM: I’m aware I haven’t trolled anyone about NLP. It’s an extreme comparison, and that’s how I work. I find extremes of examples help me figure out my position.


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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

6 thoughts on “Opinions in the wind”

  1. But seriously, Sukh. The tone of your post remind me of one of the things you wrote following UKIP’s wins in the recent EU elections. Something to the effect of, “I do my best to be a model citizen, to not give racists a reason to hate me.” This defensive reaction is, unfortunately, as futile with trolls as it is with racists.

    Trolls operate in their own worlds and play by their own rules of logic. It is futile to try to figure them out or to appeal to their sense of right and wrong. Think of them as living in their own self-created Sims universe which has a rulebook known only to them. Their only perceivable goal is to provoke, and they will say anything it takes to get a reaction from their audience. It really doesn’t matter what you write, if they find you, they’re going to do their best to find a way to provoke.

    The best practice, as Michael Carty succinctly put it, is to ignore them. Eventually they’ll get bored and go away.

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