Be Nice: Honey vs. Vinegar

One of my old bosses used to say “you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  This was a guy who was always pleasant, even in some very tense meetings.  He knew how to hold it together, and it didn’t seem hard for him.  When you were around him you felt like you mattered, as an individual.

This advice is excellent, and I think of it regularly.  Too often, my first inclination is to be defensive, on-guard, or somehow protect myself. Maybe this is because of the fair amount of teasing we did as kids (4 boys, close in age)… of course, it was all in love or whatever, and I never really felt unsafe, but perhaps that has kept me on my toes.  Who knows, maybe it has nothing to do with my brothers and all to do with my personality.  Anyway, my first inclination is to be vinegar, not honey.

I’ve learned over the years that Vinegar Networking is not good.  No one likes to be around vinegar, and the vinegar person usually ends up bouncing from conversation to conversation, or alone.

Take this idea and transfer it to online communication, whether it’s a “private” email or a very public social posting… what happens is that you start to develop a brand.  People think “oh boy, this person is posting again… I better watch out!”  Or, I better protect myself. Or I can’t believe what they are going to say, or how they are going to say it.

You don’t need to muddy up your brand with vinegar.  You are doing a good enough job muddying up your brand with confusing taglines and messaging 🙂

Recently I got a blog comment that I decided to approve… but I had to edit out almost a half dozen offensive words.

Folks, if you need to do that, do it in a closet, or scream into your pillow.  If you are here to help others, or get help from others, try some honey. You don’t have to be that lame professor in college who “never gives A’s”… we don’t all need to be critics, or critical.

Choose honey 🙂