The dangers of giving advice
Sometimes, I feel the desire to give advice. The problem is, it can so often go wrong, especially if it is unrequited. I’m quite good on websites and will comment if there is a technical fault or if something about it puts me off. I would like to give an example of a person I wrote to about their website, someone who specifically invited readers to comment.
My impression was that she let off steam in the first paragraph and then settled somewhat and became rational. I always get a ‘woomph’ when there is pent up anger in the writer and for this reason do not like opening some types of letter.
My feeling is that I may have a completely valid point, and unless I make it who is going to know what I think. If I am wrong then nothing is wasted. The English are not very good at giving or indeed accepting criticism and I’m going to try and change this somewhat. What I feel in this case is that I did my best but this was not good enough, or perhaps inappropriately put. Alternatively the person had some sort of resentment or need to defend themselves and they would react the same way to everyone.
On balance, I’m glad I said what I said. I know that other recipients of my observations have been grateful for my pointing out some aspect of their website. The last person I did this to relied, ‘yes I know it needs some updating, but I’ve been so busy’. The problem is a member of the public visiting a site does not know this and first impressions count. One of the things that annoys me most is a dead link. In other words, leading to a page with nothing on it. It’s better to have no page than a ‘nothing’ page.
There is an overall lesson from this. If you are writing a response as an instant reaction and out of anger, it is better to write it, leave it a bit, and then come back to it the next day. By that time you have calmed down and you will often be motivated to modify what you said, and write something more reasonable. It can save embarrassment in the long run especially if you find out that other person had a point.
There is a good letter in the Huffpost ‘Write it but dont sent it – and turn what happened into good.