Professionalism and writing – You are only as good as the manner in which you represent yourself.
By VC Willow Writer of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Epic Fiction
The internet is a minefield for discussion groups. Behind the safety of a computer people are much more likely to put forward forthright and sometimes downright rude comments that are a disgrace. It does them no favours and creates a bad representation of that person.
Authors I’m afraid are no exception. I’ve seen a vast number of discussions (even ones that are actually about writing) denigrate into ad hominems, personal slights and rudeness about the calibre of the commentator. But writers should beware, every comment made is traceable, easily found and can create a bad representation of the author. Remember when you are writing on a discussion board you are still commenting as an author and you do not want your reputation to precede you if that reputation is of an obnoxious, intolerant and rude author.
It’s fine to have strong views, but when discussing writing and non writing matters authors should show others respect for other peoples views even if they strongly disagree with them. So tone down the rhetoric and before you hit reply take a moment to reflect on why you disagree with another commentators views. Consider how you can be clear that you disagree with the person without being bullish. If you do not you do so at the risk of harming your reputation as an author.
There are some pretty simple rules for being professional online:
1. Show respect for others views no matter how strongly you disagree with them
2. Tone down the rhetoric and answer with restraint and reflection
3. Pause before you hit the reply button – consider if there’s a better way you could word your view.
4. No matter how much of an asshole someone else is being stay polite, on topic and be graceful under fire. No matter how provocative people are being don’t sink to their level they’ll drag you down and beat you with experience.
5. If you are going to discuss controversial and topical issues or the big subjects like religion and politics be prepared for people to hate you and disagree with you about it. It’s fine in my mind to discuss the big issues, no topic should be off the table, but be aware that not everyone will like your views and that may turn off segments of your potential audience. I’m a cantankerous old Brit who is happy to make this sacrifice to put forward an alternative view, to stand up for the things I hold firmly to as matters of principle. The lesson I’ve learnt is to be polite even when people disagree obnoxiously to my views and morals.
In short follow the Wil Weaton rule: ‘Don’t be a dick’.
Remember your online persona will precede you and anything you write can be found, it’s wise to make sure the trail leads to a positive reception to you and the way you handle yourself.
It’s fine to disagree but whether its a discussion on show and tell, using adverbs, religion or a political matter – show some respect. And finally don’t shout your response using caps locks, explain calmly and rationally why you disagree it will make the discussion much more productive.