One of the most challenging aspects of boosting your web presence is responding to the many different types of people in your social network. These could be friends (or former friends), colleagues, customers, clients, or prospective clients. Setting a good tone is easier by phone or face to face than it is through writing. That is why I encourage clients to strive for equanimity in dealing with both combative and complimentary interactions.
While equanimity is commonly thought of as a spiritual rather than a business value, the demands of online communication are such that equanimity, or even-temperedness, is essential. The time between receiving a comment over email, Twitter, or the web, and responding to it, is minimal. To be most effective, we need to focus on a quality that helps us respond in a timely way while staying as calm and centered as possible.
Equanimity in online presence means keeping in mind three key points at all times: 1) Nothing written is private; 2) Your business will be judged not by what you do but by how you interact with others; 3) Criticism and praise say as much about the person sending it as they do about you. Here is how to translate these points into everyday action.
When dealing with harshly critical people, if their tone is particularly spiteful or bizarre, imagine that the room is filled with others who can see it as plainly as you can, and relax. My secret mantra from my customer service days was, “Patently ridiculous, no need to respond.” Be gracious, thank them for their concern, and move on.
With everyone else, first try to understand their perspective. Assume that they have the best intentions, and make your response clean and professional. That way, they feel treated with respect and are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt in the future. Consider hiring a writing coach to develop creative responses for difficult situations, or have someone edit your comments for tone before sending. Never rant in writing.
Praise can sometimes throw us off-center more than criticism. When someone is effusive in their praise and you don’t know how to respond, first remember your goals. You have been working to make your content shine, and here is proof that it does! Thank them cordially, and re-focus the communication by putting the emphasis back on your message.
Equanimity does not mean passivity. It is a way to be proactive, while being both professional and relaxed. At its core (and here is where we get to the spiritual part), equanimity is about knowing the difference between your business and yourself. Your business may be very close to your heart, but at the end of the day it is just a business; people’s comments about it are not necessarily about you. Equanimity helps you not take it all personally, which lets you run your business with the least wear and tear on your well-being. And that is a smart investment.