The Problem With “Don’t be a Jerk” Guidelines…
…is no-one thinks they’re being a jerk.
They think they are:
- Being funny and irreverent.
- Responding fairly to provocation.
- Doing what they’ve seen other members do.
- Behaving as they behave elsewhere.
It’s tempting to reduce a complicated set of expectations to a simple ‘don’t be a jerk’ command. But it fails for the same reason telling kids to ‘just behave’ fails. People try to just be themselves and the results naturally follow.
This is why you need to be more specific, have clear examples, and set very clear expectations of what is and isn’t acceptable. This means you need to get into the messy field of defining clearly what’s ‘funny’ and what’s ‘jerk behavior’.