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Fellow Mediators, Help Promote Respectful Communication Online

If you read ACResolution, ACR’s quarterly magazine, then you may already know about, a creation of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution at UMass-Amherst.

The genesis of RespectPledge was a series of frightening, anonymous threats made to prominent blogger Kathy Sierra, which ultimately left her living in so much fear she stopped blogging and may never return. Kathy’s awful experience was the fodder for much debate and conversation in cyberspace, with an outcry of support for her and an equally loud outcry about the cowardice and human failings of her threatener.

Now, in his most recent ACResolution column, Colin Rule discusses a new resolution adopted unanimously at the 5th International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution in Liverpool, England. The resolution is intended to raise a collective voice among people who care deeply about civility, online and off:

“While information and communications technologies (ICT) enable unprecedented interactions between individuals around the world, they also introduce some dynamics that can degrade dialogue.

ICT enables people to communicate immediately and anonymously, often without moderation, and in some circumstances this encourages behavior (such as threats or insults) that most individuals would never engage in face-to-face.

This behavior may make people feel unwelcome, disrespected, or harassed in their online interactions. Ultimately, individuals may be dissuaded by these dynamics from participating, which undermines the vibrancy of our global conversation.

As a result, we encourage individuals to:

  • communicate online with respect
  • listen carefully to others in order to understand their perspectives
  • take responsibility for their words and actions
  • keep criticism constructive
  • respect diversity and be tolerant of differences

We embrace full and open communication and recognize the unique opportunity for expression in the online environment. We support freedom of speech and reject censorship. These principles are not intended to address what ideas can be expressed, but rather the tone with which communications take place.”

I’ve taken the pledge and have adopted a badge for my site. Please visit RespectPledge yourself and help get the word out to our fellow ADR professionals…and anyone else of similar spirit.

While we can’t prevent others’ bad behavior, we can stand up and unify our voices to let them know that’s not the world we’re trying to create.


Tammy Lenski

Dr. Tammy Lenski helps individuals, pairs, teams, and audiences navigate disagreement better, address friction, and build alignment. Her current work centers on creating the conditions for robust collaboration and sound decisions while fostering resilient personal and professional relationships. Her conflict resolution podcast and blog, Disagree Better, are available at… MORE >

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