Tipsheet: Eye of the Beholder

Eye of the Beholder

Have you ever been completely “ticked” by something you read? When this happens, you often feel defensive:
How can they say that? It doesn’t apply to me! At other times, your reaction is more aggressive: you lash out in anger. You malign the sender. Or worse. If yesterday’s email world was risky, today’s social media world can be downright dangerous.

We might all speak the same language and read the same words, but what we get from the interaction is completely unique. As writers, speakers, tweeters, and bloggers, it behooves us to carefully consider this whenever we speak or write. Three suggestions:

1) What’s your point? What are you trying to accomplish with your communication? Are you trying to inform, clarify, convince, debate, or incite?

2) Consider the different responses that each reader or listener might have. The last thing that you want is a flame war (or a permanent enemy) just because someone is offended by what they think you mean.

3) Take a moment to catch your breath. Instead of immediately responding to an offensive post, write your response and sit on it for a few hours (or a day). You can still send it later, but a short cooling off period is an important insurance policy.

This week’s action plan: Whenever you find yourself annoyed by what someone else writes or says, give them the benefit of the doubt. When you assume others have the best of intentions, remember that sometimes they do. (For more on this topic, read The Center of Gravity .)

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Randall Craig

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Randall Craig has founded several successful start-ups, held a long-time position at a “big-four” consulting firm, and was an executive at an American public company. He currently serves as the 108 ideaspace CEO and chief strategist. Randall has been advising on digital strategy since 1994: he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail’s GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations.

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