After I picked up my bags at the checkout lane in Sprouts yesterday the cashier bowed with his hands folded. “Namaste!”
At first this interaction made me giggle, but it stayed with me. It was unique to his way of expressing himself. True kindness has a way of personalizing itself.
It also has a way of crossing barriers. There are all kinds of barriers around communication, like language, emotional background, etc. Written words on the internet are a great communication pathway, but they also pose a barrier because they lack some of the nuances of personal communication.
It takes extra thoughtfulness to be kind online. I’ve been working with a great copy editor recently, and his communication style has inspired me to be more careful with my words online. When he asks for a revision, he’ll first thank me for my work. He’s specific about what he likes about my work and what can be improved. It makes revising much more palatable because I’m clear about the direction I’m going.
Online thoughtfulness is more than just kind words. It’s about anticipating the different ways your words can be interpreted, and thinking through the consequences.
If it’s important for us to think before we speak, it’s doubly important for us to think before we type.
There’s no second chance-- we can’t interpret our audience’s facial reaction and say “Wait, let me clarify!” It’s important that the first time we write we make our message objectively clear and kind.
There’s a lot of talk about how to individualize your brand.
What better way to individualize yourself online than to be kind and thoughtful? Thoughtfulness makes us unique because it requires consideration of the unique needs of your listener. Every time you interact with someone it gives you a chance to be creative. The relationship you build between yourself, another person, or your audience is special because it can be replicated by no one but yourselves.
Treat your online relationships with respect by communicating thoughtfully; consequently you’ll differentiate yourself in the best way possible.