Be Nice to the Nice People – Verbal Judo

This is a silly post, with a little bit of seriousness tucked for a bit of Truth.  I’ve been thinking for awhile on one of the things I’ve learned from the concept of Verbal Judo – “ju” is Japanese for “gentle” and “do” being the Japanese word for “way,” thus, the Gentle Way of Communicating with anyone.  The way that causes the least amount of stress or effort while still ensuring that people react the way they are required to.  Verbal Judo is a book written by a cop, and definitely for cops, although anyone can benefit from the wisdom in it.  It’s got great tactics for dealing with difficult, or even downright horrible people – for throwing them offtrack, for making them do exactly what you want them to do – which is crucial if you’re in law enforcement, or teaching, or in any position of authority.

One of the basic principals within verbal judo is being aware enough to be nice to the nice people.

Nice People are not your problem, but it’s still wise to treat them as if they’re important.  If you don’t treat them well, they may do what you want but will feel rotten about it.  You’ll lose credibility with them and gradually they’ll stop supporting you.  Besides, just because they are cooperative is no reason to take advantage of them or take them for granted.  Treating them with respect is right because it’s right.

So few people are cooperative that you have to cultivate and cherish the ones who are.

I’ve thought a lot about incorporating a Comment Policy, which is basically a “Rule” for my own little corner of the internet that seeks to moderate what is shown on my blog as far as comments go.  I’ve read that a lot of people don’t respect a blogger who moderates, because it’s somehow deceptive to not show comments that are critical or argumentative.

The problem is not with criticism, but instead with a person attempting to attack and destroy another with their reckless words in a comment or in an email.  One of my favorite bloggers who is a woman my same age & after my own heart, and yet beyond me in her growth and in her ability in disregarding her hate mail, surprised me as I read this morning that she also receives a fair amount of hate mail for running her blog.  Here is her explanation:

scissortailsilk Mom

I get a lot of hate mail. No, really… I get countless emails saying terrible things about me and my family. You might be surprised. There isn’t much I say on this page that would seem to come across as aggressive or deserving of hate. As a matter of fact, the sole mission behind all of my writing is to bring healing and hope to the hearts of others.

I guess, sometimes, hope is hard.

Sometimes, people don’t like hope… Or at least they don’t like how I offer hope to them or to others.

I could choose from many examples, but take this one for instance. I wrote article about a mom I saw at Chick-Fil-A. When scrolling through comments awaiting moderation, I was shocked (to say the least) to find that I had been called something that I read on the wall in a dirty bathroom stall once when I was in middle school. I was just as shocked to read it 20 years later in regard to my hope for the momma who wanted to eat her chicken nuggets while managing her small children.

I couldn’t understand why someone would stop in the middle of their day to say how angry they were about something that had nothing to do with them. Why would they seek out an opportunity to destroy hope?

I protect my readers passionately by not publishing every comment and by carefully moderating conversations on this page and my other social media accounts. I treat these places like my living room. I keep them safe for me and for my friends. Do you know why? Do you know why I care so much? Because this is my small corner of the internet.

And this is an area where I get to say no to hate.

With so many people who feel uninhibited in expressing their views of pessimism and criticisms, it is good to treasure the people (or bloggers) who we know are for us, to feel that we can trust them to give us criticism that we actually need to better ourselves, and who don’t feel the need to attack us personally or viciously.

It’s good to be thankful for the people who back us, the trustworthy people – to appreciate them.

It’s good to be nice to the nice people.


  1. I try to treat everyone nice. I have my three blogging sites Private so I can keep the haters and debaters out.

  2. Frank, you’ve read my posts about this before… you’ve seen me handle it badly and also when I learned to finally handle it correctly. I guess this is the end of my dealing with haters once and for all, despite what people may think, I like debaters, or people who disagree. I don’t like people who call me horrible things or try to character assassinate or try to play the backstabber and write posts trying to get people to dislike me. But I do like difficult people at times… their points are usually opportunities to explain what I personally think about things.

    Thanks for being there Frank! Really. Thanks for being a support person I trust.

  3. I get the point of this piece and generally agree, though we Americans could certainly use “nicer” cops and I had to chuckle at quoting a book written by a cop in our current LEO climate, this;

    “It’s good to be thankful for the people who back us, the trustworthy people – to appreciate them.

    It’s good to be nice to the nice people.”

    Just because someone doesn’t “back us” doesn’t mean they are not trustworthy or not nice. Unless we are perfect, which nobody is, we all have at least one flaw in character, or at least one very wrong idea, that should not be “backed” but rather challenged so we can get rid of it.

  4. I really am nice to people in general. I see no point in getting too hostile. I too receive a fair amount of “fan” mail and I allow most of it to be posted. Some of it I even highlight because I find it so funny. I am hardly worthy of such outrage, but some people seem to believe I am queen of the whole world.

    I do filter out and delete a few blog comments, but really only those that are outright vulgar and pointlessly mean. I kind of enjoy healthy debate and free speech, so people don’t have to agree with me, but there are some limits.

  5. Thank you so much for commenting about your own moderation habits – I totally agree, I like free speech and debate if it’s respectful… but I also like this other mommy blogger’s concept of her blog being a “safe place,” like her living room that she invites people into. I really like that idea. I love when people comment, especially getting a real feel for who they really are (their personality or their unique wisdom). Even if they disagree, I still want them to comment if they feel like it. But yes, I think there do need to be some limits for people who are just mean, manipulative, or psycho.

  6. I think excessive vitriol, personal attacks, things like that can diminish a place.

    It’s similar to letting people litter around your yard. One piece of metaphorical “trash” (example one very rude and personal comment) isn’t going to be a huge problem…but the more wads of gum, the worse the environment. And people who like to throw trash will gravitate to that place over time, people who don’t like the ambiance (usually the nice people) will leave. Unpleasant environments aren’t typically a magnet for pleasant, insightful or constructive commentary.

    On the flip side, over-moderation can stiffle debate too. It all primarily depends on the purpose of the site. When I was around your age and had very small children in the house, I absolutely craved intellectual debate/stimulation. I needed more “brain candy” than my sons playgroups…I wanted to talk about politics and social issues and lots of different subjects my friends had either no interest in and/or were too controversial. I joined an online debate forum for my brain-candy and after a few weeks they made me a moderator. It was a heavily moderated place, and I learned a great deal about how to present an idea without vitriol or personal attacks. It takes a great deal more effort (the reason a lot of people who delve into personal attacks right away and automatically don’t bother….their purpose is usually not to inform or discuss a subject).

    I could write a long, long time on this subject, but I’ll spare you most of it. Moderation often depends on the size of the audience, too. A place with only a few participants can police itself rather well (like a small town). Ours wasn’t huge, but there were a few thousand members, and hundreds of people posting actively at one time. That made it more challenging. There was a definitive set of rules, but the staff also spoke with each other and determined what the protocol should be, depending on the offense. Human interactions are largely subjective, so offenses were determined on a case-by-case basis. (Hypothetical) Now, suppose we had 100,000 active members. The staff would be larger, there would be less discretion…more all-encompassing rules and less subjectivity. There simply wouldn’t be enough manpower capable of that oversight, no matter how many committee members we had, there would be differences of opinion, ect. Now, multiply this by 10 million. There is at that point very little to no individual judgment test, no “common sensical guideline”. Simply yes or no squares to fill…
    And that, is how bureaucracies happen. (just as a side note)

    Even in a heavily moderated place like my old political debate blog, you’ll run into folks who become very adept at skirting the rules. Enfant Provocateurs/Composts/Evil Clowns are rare

    But folks like the artful dodger/weenie/netiquette nazis flourish there:

    Sometimes emotions run high and even the best people start to tire and become offensive, if it’s a subject you’re very passionate about. I’ve done this a hundred times or more. And, let’s face it, a place that doesn’t permit people a little leewy on the passion scale can become stale…people dont’ like echo chambers either (echo chambers come out of over AND under moderation). It’s a fine line. I like your site, dragonfly girl. 🙂

  7. I hope that comment didn’t go to the spam queue due to the links. Hadn’t considered that. Please check your spam box if so, dragonfly girl!

  8. Blogs seem to be able to maintain a civil atmosphere up to the point where posts have typically up to 100 comments or so; after that, not so much. Personal blogs are generally more civil than media-run or organizational blogs. Some of the nastiest comments I have seen are on financial/market blogs.

    There is also a real art to managing comments on the part of the blogger. I remember one interchange at the site of the late Neptunus Lex (Navy captain and attack pilot)…someone was getting obnoxious, and Lex said something like “your comments are usually astute and thoughtful…this is not worthy of you”

  9. I was a Lex fan, too! 🙂
    (funny…I recently met a guy in real life who was a Lex fan. Pilot, author, former officer)
    Very small world.

  10. Interesting…I just perused your site and you mentioned a piece by Sarah Hoyt. I’m a fan of her blog as well. Interesting.

    I guess with the internet we aren’t just all seven degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, we’re probably about three degrees of separation from each other. 🙂

  11. Liz…tragic what happened to Lex…a brilliant writer and thinker, and I’m sure a fine officer. Wish his blog could be reinstated. His personalized and hyperlinked version of Tennyson’s “Ulysses” was one of the best things I’ve ever seen on the Internet.

  12. I like that whole comedic bit on the seven degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. Good stuff.

    Sometimes simply walking away from the keyboard and toxic online communities are the best option.

  13. Internet comments can be a rancid dumpster fire of utterly needless hate and uncalled-for bigotry. It makes me laugh that some “don’t respect” a blogger who won’t allow all comments.

    They would despise me—I rarely allow ANY comments on my blog. My reasoning: I know more about my current subject than my readers; plus, they clicked over here to read *my* stuff.

    As Louis CK says, if you still have comments you want to leave, please write them down on a piece of paper and then shove that paper up your own ass.

    (Don’t get me wrong—despite my unabashed outlook, random babies and my mother in law still think I’m a very nice fellow.)

  14. Wow, Liz, this comment has so much wisdom in it! Thank you so much. That is so interesting that you were a mod at a debate site! I don’t think I’d really be able to moderate something like that at all right now, but I totally identify with wanting a little more intellectual stimulation at times. I used to work in science doing research for the most cutting edge vaccine developments of Ebola and Marburg viruses… it was so awesome, and the people I spoke with on a daily basis were from different countries with different ideologies and thoughts. I loved the people, and I miss that. Part of starting this blog was to get myself just writing about things I found interesting, basically any subject BUT politics lol. It’s not that I’m not political, it’s just that I didn’t want this site to have any of that ugliness here… it’s mostly so negative and brings up so many negative feelings, at least, for me. Feminism, talking about it, is the closest I’ll ever get to politics on this blog.

  15. Thank you, it really does seem like an art… I’m definitely still learning, and my blog doesn’t get many comments, which I’m beginning to be grateful for in a way. 🙂

  16. Interesting you worked in a research lab, Dragonfly girl! My first degree was Chemistry (met my husband in physics class), second Medical technology…I worked in a medical lab as a clinical chemist for a short time before I got my RN (and before kids). 🙂

    I got into politics because of my husband’s job (military). I had a more vested and direct interest than most people. These days I’m pretty punchdrunk and warn out on it now…too depressing. I’ve learned a few things over the course of ten years that a smarter person would have figured out within one week:

    1) Ideology can be blinding.
    A person could be proven wrong 99 percent of the time and they will cling to that exception and the “it just hasn’t been tried right yet!” paradigm.
    I’d liken ideology to hormones. In a battle between reason/willpower and hormones, hormones will win the majority of the time.

    2) Everyone is influenced by emotion more than reason. We’re animals. People who claim they are never swayed by emotion don’t know themselves very well.

    3) There is little correlation between the person who says he or she “hates ideological blindness” and their actual level of ideological blindness. The most myopic of all will claim everyone but themselves are sheeple.
    I’d liken that one to women and drama. You’ll never meet a woman who says she likes drama…but most do. Sometimes, one meets a person who says, ‘I hate drama’ and you might think there’s a common interest there…hey, I hate drama too! But usually, that’s just another way of saying she hates others drama, but just loves to create her own.

  17. “I’ve learned a few things over the course of ten years that a smarter person would have figured out within one week:”

    I so identify with this sentiment! 🙂 It’s taken a long time for me to learn a lot of things as well.

    Definitely agree with #1, I’ve seen statistics that show that you can effectively prove a person wrong in an argument, and they’ll STILL cling to their wrong ideas or perception of things. And you’re so right… it does go DIRECTLY into #2 with their being emotionally invested in their ideology.

  18. This is your house, no one has a constitutional right to disrespect you or your guests. If someone tracks mud across your carpet, calls you a ****, and sets fire to your drapes, kick him out and don’t feel bad about it. Maybe even crack his skull pour encourager les autres.

    The internet is young and was born in a vulgar age, too young and too vulgar to have developed an unwritten Robert’s Rule of Order that makes discourse possible. We are taught to say please and thank you in daily life. No one taught us proper etiquette on a medium of simple words, no visual cues, and no consequences. We will learn the value of order the hard way. Crying “free speech” is the last refuge of the boor. You can’t teach a grown savage manners, and it’s not your job to.

    Don’t worry so much about pulling weeds. The difference between a jungle and a garden is your level of control. Wield your control judiciously, that’s all. Everyone, especially in small communities, has an innate sense of fairness.

    However, don’t get tripped up on the Cult of “Nice.” Nice is for shrinking violets who prefer injustice to the possibility of conflict. My zeal for Thy House will consume me. Be the young matriarch that you are. Embrace that role neglected by this crass culture. Embody it. This world could stand quite a few more of you.


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