SL Communication by GraceSWF Wrigglesworth
Let me remind you of our context – the audience and environment intended for this blog post. You are a fairly new user or brand new user to Second Life (secondlife.com – shorthand is often just SL) and have “taken the plunge” to try out being a SL mermaid or merman. If you haven’t “taken the plunge” yet, please go back and read the past blog posts – they should be very helpful. There is also general help (not aimed at mermaids specifically but for all SL users) on the web. Because there is so much to learn about getting around in SL, these general sites can be very helpful. Check out Virtual Outworlding Blog and Second Life Support – both are easy to navigate and have great content. If you’ve already had a lot of experience in SL but are discovering or renewing your underwater part of it – you may find some of this post to be oversimplified or even redundant. Please scan the contents of this posting to find the content that is helpful to you.
Communication is such a delicate and complex task in any environment, and I wanted to share my perspectives on how to communicate and avoid some of the barriers that prevent effective communication. I’m sharing my opinions and suggestions; there is a much deeper description of communication in SL at Communication Overview.
If you take anything out of this posting, there are two things that I really want you to know and remember. First, it is quite normal to have SL chat has gaps, lag or silent times. That is, when in an Instant Message (IM), many people carry on multiple conversations or may need to step away from the computer for a time (afk = away from keyboard). It happens, so there can be good rewards for being patient and watching for the return message within the IM conversation. Its an acquired skill, but I know that I often talk this way and return back to an IM window, even if the gap has been fifteen minutes or more. Especially if someone is trying to help you, realize that there may be short “gaps “ in the conversation but it still very much alive and continuing. Yes, sometimes the person forgot about the conversation and fallen asleep, so you’ll need to decide yourself how long you are willing to wait for someone to continue there part of a communication. My rule is roughly 15 minutes, and if they haven’t responded, I type in the IM that I had to go and hope we could talk another time. That’s my general rule, if I know the person well, I have a sense for how often they typically do this “gap” type of communication. If you are looking for instant results and keep typing rapidly while waiting for them to respond, you may be viewed as an impatient newb and limit how helpful the other person will continue to be. So my number one rule in SL is to expect some gaps in SL conversations and deal with it.
The second thing I’d like you to take away from this post is to never jump to conclusions. If you are offended by something said to you, ask some questions to find out what the person meant. If they are trying to be rude and disruptive – there are ways to report such problems to the SL administrators (complete an abuse report). Click here for more information. But many times I have found that there are either cultural differences, or the message has been misunderstood. What you are hearing and reacting is not related to the message they were trying to send to you. Maybe they stated things unclearly. Clarify, clarify, clarify! Ask for more information by asking questions like “why do you say that?” or “I am not sure I understand you, can you explain (specific topic) to me more?” You may also be talking with someone from another country that doesn’t quite understand your language.
I’ve found many fights in SL are started because of a misinterpretation. In SL communication is so instantaneous and can travel to multiple people with very little effort (The appropriate idiom is “spread like wildfire”). A disagreement can quickly become complicated and when that happens, it is very hard to get back to the simple good conversation you that started initially. Proceed with caution if you feel your emotions getting involved – that is my second rule of SL communication. Prevention is the way to go – use all your communication skills.
Some other good things to read about if you want to become a good communicator in SL are:
1. Etiquette: http://www.goodchatting.com/articles/etiquette.phtml
2. IM, Open Chat or phone call: http://virtualoutworlding.blogspot.com/2012/05/kit-communication-in-second-life.html
3. Tips for Cross-Cultural Communication: http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/Cross-Cultural-communication.htm
4. Seek first to understand, then be understood: https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits-habit5.php
5. Miscommunication happens all the time; use damage control: http://sideways8.com/when-miscommunications-happen/
This post has been written about things that apply to all users in virtual worlds – but definitely applies to mermaids. We are rare creatures and for the most part are known for being gentle, well-behaved, and good communicators. Join in the fun and keep our reputation strong. You may want to explore Selby Evan’s blog, Virtual Outworlding to get a lot more very accurate and current information on exploring the virtual world!
Please come back to our Digital Mermaid blog for more information and ideas. Our goal is to get something out several times each month. If you have some ideas or questions that we could address here, please email email@example.com. Best wishes on becoming a mermaid in the virtual world!
Author: GraceSWF Wrigglesworth, SWF Founder and CEO
Second Life, Linden, SLurl, and SL are trademarks of Linden Research Inc.
This blog is not affiliated with Second Life or anything else.