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.
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:
complains about your site -- the navigation, the
spelling, the graphics, etc.
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.
is rude to you in an e-mail.
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.
Someone's spelling is atrocious.
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.
Someone posts something on a maillist with which you
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.