Trolling and shouting may be very well the two most overlooked destructive behaviours when it comes to working (or personal) relationships. I had the luxury to observe these two baby monsters in action during my professional life.
Let’s start with the one that is arguably the loudest. There is nothing wrong in a debate, even a heated one. Potentially it can spark new solutions. Worst case scenario spices up a dull office day infusing some energy.
When it gets to shouting it is not a debate anymore. It is a war. Here’s the thing: a war is by nature a zero-sum game: only one party can win. And what do people do when go to war? They do whatever it takes to win – no one wants to be the loser. There is no room for reasoning nor for chivalry. So true facts might be overlooked, potential alternatives too, egos are bruised, and in general a negative energy is infused in the office.
And what happens in the end is that the losing party is always bitter and resents the situation and the result, regardless of how good or correct the solution is.
This one might seem harmless. What’s wrong having a good joke in the office isn’t it? Well, there is nothing wrong with irony but trolling is not irony. And when it happens repeatedly in the office it can kill communication and idea sharing.
Suppose someone shares his enthusiasm for a tool or book she just discovered and she gets a big fat trolling reply. When this pattern repeats enough times usually that person will stop doing the things that triggered the trolling.
So yeah, trolling is not harmless. If it was then we’d troll our parents and loved ones. But we don’t do this. Because deep down we feel that it is wrong. In the end it is about not respecting or caring.
If you feel like your life can’t be the same without trolling, maybe you can try distilling it and get to the point where is more irony than trolling. For example try trolling your parents or wife/husband/best friend. When you will be able to successfully do this and still keep the relationship on the good side it means you graduated: you are not trolling anymore. Welcome back to the good side my friend!