Through February, I’m going to run a mini series of posts that I’m calling “Talk Shop Saturdays.” The idea is to share some of my thoughts on blogging and give bloggers an opportunity to chat about a variety of topics. I’m chosen to run these on Saturdays, when deal posting is generally slower. If you have topics you’d like to “talk shop” about, leave a comment or email me at angela @ thecouponproject dot com. In case you missed it, you can go back and read last week’s post on Defining your “enough.”
Today I’d like to take time out to discuss one of the things I struggle with the most when it comes to blogging. I suspect if you are a blogger, or even someone that just spends a fair amount of time online, you can relate in some way. My struggle? Managing my emotions when it comes to my online interactions.
I would like to say that the longer I’m at this, the easier it gets and that my skin has grown thicker. But the truth is it’s something I have to be extremely vigilant about.
What pushes your buttons?
Let me describe a scenario I’ve found myself on many occasions.
I’ve gotten up early, or stayed up late (forfeiting some “down time”) to put together an extensive coupon matchup list. Two hours later, I’m happy and relieved to hit “publish” and share the deals with my readers. Minutes later, the first comment comes in – someone has decided to point out a very minor typo. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a big deal, except for the fact I’m tired and frustrated that instead of a “thank you” I got a correction. Admittedly, my first thought is usually not, wow I’m so glad you pointed that out it’s more like, this is a service you’re getting for free. I got up early and put these deals together after very little sleep. You should be grateful, you grammar Nazi.
This is a pretty vanilla example too. I have had readers who have taken it upon themselves to play “editor” to my deals, pointing out every slight error they can find. I’ve had folks go out of their way to send a lengthy email correcting me on a spelling error they found on a post I published two months ago. I noticed I just had a comment come in on a recipe post last night where the person took it upon themselves to link to their much better recipe.
It can be so easy when you’re sitting there in the moment to think of something particularly cutting to retort back. I think it’s easier to do this on Facebook than just about any other platform – that “comment” field is right there, so immediate. Kind of like honking the horn in the car when the person just cut you off. And on one more occasion, sadly, I’ve honked the horn.
Taking a Step Back
While I’ve not done this perfectly, I would like to share with you some of the things that have helped me get over that “in the moment” feeling. Have you done any of these?
- Vent to another blogger. Sometimes the best thing to do is not to vent towards the reader or commentor, but to a fellow blogger that can understand. Even better if the fellow blogger is one that you trust enough to tell you the truth! Sometimes you can get so caught up in your emotion, that an outside perspective can be really helpful. Perhaps someone else would interpret the comment left in a different way.
- Say nothing. There have been times when someone will criticize my work, a deal I’ve posted, or an opinion I’ve shared. Instead of feeling the need to respond right away, I’ve found it helpful at times to just wait. It’s always better to have others come to your defense than yourself.
- Take time to unplug. I am a big advocate for having lots of time unplugged. That means – no laptop, iPad, phone, nada. Make time to go to the gym or out for a run, take your kids to the park, have an impromptu night out with friends, or take a bath. I’ve noticed that the more time I spend online, the more irritable I’m bound to grow. Give your mind a break from online buzz.
- Remember the kind comments. I actually have a folder in my inbox called “Reader Emails.” Whenever I get an exceptionally kind “thank you” type email, I file it away there. When I’m having a frustrating moment or day, I will sometimes read through a couple of those to keep my focus.
- Draft an email, but do not send. This isn’t a new concept at all, but I sometimes find it helpful to draft a response right away to get my initial feelings out, but then save it. Just be careful to not actually send it unless you mean it! Then sleep on it and re-read it. Often I find my perspective will be a bit different the next morning.
- Be kind yourself. Leave the kind of comments on other peoples’ Facebook pages and blogs that you would like to receive. Go out of your way to promote what other people are writing. Come to a fellow blogger’s defense when they are being unfairly attacked online. Do all you can to promote kindness online – goodness knows there is a shortage of it!
- Remember you want people commenting. If I really stop and think about it, I truly WANT people to comment, and I’ve worked really hard to take a very limited stance when it comes to comment moderation. I don’t want to create a place where people feel that they can’t say what they really feel.
That being said, there are times when I still feel after a break that I need to speak my mind. For instance, a few months back, I had person email me and ask what religion I was. Why? Because they told me they didn’t want to follow my site if I was of a certain religion and that they choose to boycott any businesses of that religion. Any way you slice it, that’s intolerance and something I cannot stand for. I did end up responding to that person and told them it was best they stop emailing me or read my site – not because I was a part of that religion, but because I didn’t want people participating here that had such deep seated prejudices about people of differing faiths. Several months later, I don’t regret my response.
However, I can think of several instances where I have completely regretted a response made in the heat of my frustration. Do you see that quote at the top of the post? I saw it being shared on Facebook last week and it really stood out to me. Don’t feel that you can’t speak your mind when you really need to, but do choose those moments wisely!
Do you play it safe?
I would like to end this post on a bit of a twist.
I’ve told you now that I sometimes struggle with my emotions or wanting to snap at people that disagree with me online. But I never want to use that as an excuse to play it safe!
Do you ever read blogs where it’s clear the blogger is trying not to upset anyone? And by working to appease both sides you have no sensibility for what the blogger actually believes? Far too many bloggers have created “debate-free” comment threads and then wonder why no one comments. Some of my most commented upon and shared posts are the ones where I took a risk and said what I thought. (Usually something ethics related.) I think we have a serious problem these days where everyone gets offended at the slightest thing – and so we respond by walking on eggshells and cower in fear of saying what it is we really think.
I find it completely refreshing when a blogger comes out and un-apologetically, takes a stand on an issue – even if it’s different than mine. It means they are willing to receive comments that will challenge their own – and that is a very brave risk to take indeed. I also am a firm believer that in many cases, a blogger possesses the power to shape the conversation. Has she used a contentious tone, or a thoughtful one? Did he made unnecessarily harsh statements or judgments or remain open minded to hearing from others with differing views? I wish more bloggers would take risks in this area.
While getting negative feedback or criticism is never fun, I don’t want it to stand of the way in creating the content that matters to me. I would rather cater to those that love my site than those that have nothing better to do than critique it.
I would love to know your thoughts on this issue. How do you handle upsetting comments or emails? Do you play it safe on your site – or quite the opposite?