The first time I ever spoke at a convention, my intent was to get through the ordeal without being pelted with overripe fruit. The fact that attendees would later vote on the speakers was a tidbit I chose to pay as little conscious attention to as possible.
A number of weeks later I was informed that I had been voted favorite speaker of the convention. But it could easily have been otherwise.
Last January I performed as Buttercup in Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. Having spent most of the last 20 years behind the scenes, I was greatly relieved to know that the community theater I was performing in got mostly fact-related newspaper coverage as opposed to serious arts reviews! I was sure I was not ready for a prime time critique.
Blogging is the most public of venues. Forget “worldwide web,” it’s a worldwide stage. And when you decide to blog, the very format of blogging software says that you are not only committing to share you thoughts and ideas with the world, but you’re open to hearing the world share back with you.
If you write interesting and insightful posts, if you make claims — if you have an opinion about anything — someone will have an opposing view. And if you can broaden your circle of readers beyond those reading out of familial obligation (generally a desired goal!) your readers might speak up to challenge you.
Are you ready to handle that with civility?
When a reader takes the time to respond with a countering view, resist the urge to lash out, call names, be sarcastic, or have a tantrum. You don’t have to change your position, but consider what is said with an open mind. If valid points are made, acknowledge those. Entrenching in an unsound position hurts your credibility. Explain your thinking on the things you still disagree with. Above all, don’t assume motive or malicious intent. It serves no positive purpose and can leave you looking unreasonable.
If you don’t want to deal with reader response (it can be time consuming and frustrating!) consider having a static site — where you merely disseminate information — or more traditional media like books or newsletters.
If you decide to blog, remember that blogging is an open forum. It’s a place to gather ideas and interact with others. And that interaction can either support your ideas or counter them. Be ready to appropriately deal with whatever feedback comes your way in a professional manner and you’ll establish a reputation for being approachable and intellectually honest.
Let the blogging begin!
An earlier version of this post first appeared as a guest post on Ms. Ileane Speaks. It is reprinted hear at a client’s request.