If I had it to do over, I’d worry less about how people reacted. Why? Because no matter how hard I try, I can’t control their reactions. I’ve wasted time and energy trying to please the “unpleasable.”
I still don’t intend to try to tick people off. I will not intentionally be petty or mean-spirited. But after years of speaking, publishing online and writing books, I’ve noticed these things:
- You can’t make everyone happy. We are supposed to know that, but for some reason it is hard to remember.
- Some people actively search out reasons to be insulted or offended.
- The best intentioned thought or statement can be misconstrued or taken the wrong way. I’ve had people go off on me over a rhetorical question I asked. Jumping to conclusions could be an Olympic sport.
- If people only agree with you, they aren’t thinking very hard or deeply about what you’ve said. I never begrudge anyone a difference of opinion if it is well reasoned and they are looking for dialogue and not just a fight.
- Since other people don’t seem to care if they alienate or annoy me, why worry about them? There are some reviewers, bloggers, commenters and other critics who are not only direct but sometimes harsh and unfair in the things they write to me and about me. Civility is often lacking and ironically, if you try to engage these people they suddenly become thin skinned and have difficulty tasting their own medicine. The best response here: ignore ’em.
No matter how carefully or sensitively you communicate, you’ll crush a few eggshells. Often the unhappy or critical responses are more about the responder than you.
So I’d not advise you to tick people off. I can only tell you that I’m going to worry much less about making people unhappy with what I write or say.