The Passing Lane: Passing the Competition Online by Marnie Perhson

Issue #25 Monday, March 29, 1999

About the Author:

Marnie Perhson
Marnie Pehrson, founder of C.E.S. Business Consultants and the
International Association of Computer Professionals, develops products that help computer professionals market and manage their businesses.

She is author of
How to Run a Successful Computer Training Business,

How to Get & Keep Customers for Your Computer-based Business

Keeping Your Sanity in a Home Business.

Marnie is an Internet strategist and content developer for community-based Web sites. Her plans and strategies have garnered clients an average of $100,000 each in seed capital. She also offers ghost writing services and content delivery for your Web site or e-zine.

Marnie lives on a Georgia farm with her husband and their six children .

C.E.S. Business Consultants
Ringgold, Georgia
TEL: 706-866-2295


Never Burn a Bridge

Have you ever had someone rub you the wrong way on-line? Maybe they wrote you an e-mail criticizing your web site. Or maybe they ragged on you because you misspelled a word in a post. Or maybe they flamed you when they misunderstood something you had written on a maillist.

In life, misunderstandings are common; on the Internet they're downright rampant. Many people forget that there are actually human beings on the other side of their keyboard. How do you respond when someone attacks or criticizes you on-line?

My motto, which has carried me through the last ten years in business is, Never burn a bridge. Even someone who rubs you the wrong way could be a valuable networking contact or hold a position of influence that may help you in the future. But, more importantly, it's a well-known fact that when you do something bad or negative, people will tell ten times more people than they would if you did something good. And on the Web, news spreads like wildfire.

Here are some common scenarios that can happen to you on the Internet and how you could respond to avoid burning that bridge:

Problem: Someone complains about your site -- the navigation, the spelling, the graphics, etc.

Response: After you get over the hurt ego, think seriously about what they said. If one person had the nerve to complain, there are probably many more that felt the same way that didn't say a word. Ask around. Do other people feel the same way about your site? Seriously consider what the person said, and adapt your site if you feel their comment was valid. Thank the person for their comment, but avoid a nasty rebuttal.

Problem: Someone is rude to you in an e-mail.

Response: Take into consideration that some people do not know how to craft a letter. They can appear to be curt and rude when they really weren't trying to be. Maybe you misunderstood. You could ask for clarification. Or, if it's important, don't hesitate to pick up the phone and speak to them so you can hear the emotion and inflection in their voice. Whether they meant to be rude or not, avoid being rude in return. Respond with a kind answer or ignore their malicious comment but never stoop to their level.

Problem: Someone's spelling is atrocious.

Response: Ignore it. Live with it. Everyone's not as good a speller as you are. People are usually in a hurry on-line. Cut them some slack.

Problem: Someone posts something on a maillist with which you strongly disagree.

Response: Ignore it if possible. If it's something you feel must be addressed, kindly craft a response that sets forth your opinion without attacking the author of the original post. Remember that if you want the right to express your opinions, you must allow others to express theirs. Also, seriously consider whether your response should be posted to the entire list or just to the individual. Far too many rebuttals are sent to an entire mailing list when they should be sent to only one person. As a result, some lists become nothing but group arguments.

I suppose I might be living in a dream world, but if we could all remember that there are human beings on the other side of our keyboards, and flavor that fact with the Golden Rule, the Internet would be a much better place.

Text Copyright © 1999, Marnie Pehrson. Part of the original Sideroad.
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