Expecting the Best: Online and Offline

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I believe that for the most part, we all expect the good in others. Whether we meet someone in real life (IRL) or in a virtual environment; we expect them to be honest, forthright and professional. We expect these actions without thinking about them; it’s just what we expect. We expect trust, doing the right thing and not hurting the other person.Unfortunately this is not always the case with our relationships. People hurt us, take advantage of us, do hurtful things; it is a sad fact of life, that in some ways, is becoming more common place.IRL when someone treats us this way, we have choices: confront the person, turn and walk away, or do nothing but maybe distance ourselves from that person. What have you done in these situations?Today, more business and personal relationships start online or in a virtual environment. I believe the same rules and thought processes take place with these relationships: we expect the best out of those we meet online. We believe what we are told, we develop a friendship, a relationship or seek out opportunities to work with these individuals. At times though, these relationships are revealed to be less than wholesome, meaning the other person has mislead us, lied to us, or they have been using our expertise and business relationships for their own gain. We must ask ourselves the same question though; how do we handle it? Do we confront the person online? Do we call them out? What have you done or what would you do?I know friends that have been hurt through virtual relationships. This is as unfortunate as being hurt IRL because it is life. True these relationships are virtual in as much as we do not see these people face-to-face, but we are humans being hurt by other humans. How do we correct this? How do we deal with it when others treat us this way?  My thoughts:  call them out.  What do you say?The virtual environment, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. is a little like the Wild West. While you will find plenty of material written about the right and wrong way to conduct yourself; there are no rules. People are free to do what they want. Is this good or is this bad?  How can you make a pinky promise in a virtual relationship?I believe in people and trust others until they give me a reason not to. I am far from perfect and have made my own mistakes in relationships, friendships and in business. However, I do believe most people we meet, IRL or online are honest and trustworthy.What do you think?

Comments

  1. Rochelle Veturis says:

    The comments are delicious on this post John. What a beneficial and meaningful discussion you started.Ohhh, the joys of bad behavior online. Google has a longer lasting memory than anything I???ve ever seen, so it still surprises me how often some feel the need to tear each other down in the cyberspace.There are too many brilliant and wise nuggets of truth above to list all the ones I liked. But they???re right. It???s not if someone hurts you but when, and how we deal with the scenario ???in all its different flavors, is a barometer for what???s going on in our hearts. It???s the measure of our character and beliefs. The moment we really put the pedal to the metal.I love how J described dealing with difficult people and situations; it???s completely biblical and from experience, the highest road you can take.And I agree with Paul, ???you are a wonderful friend, JL. You are worth going through millions of hurtful, stupid idiots to find.???Keep ???em coming John. Another terrific post.

  2. Thank you Rob, very good points. We should always conduct ourselves in a professional manner, online and off.

  3. Marty McPadden says:

    Very well said John. I especially think the last paragraph sums it up nicely. You lead by example. I have a tremendous amount of respect for you professionally and more importantly on a personal level. You walk the talk everyday my friend!

  4. Danielle Miller says:

    This is a terrific post John and judging from the comments, you’ve gotten some amazing and insightful responses. As you said and has been discussed, the trust factor is huge….indeed I would extend that to the KLT factor (know, like, trust) as well. I, like our friend Mr. Tran, give others the benefit of the doubt and then if doubts surface, I get to choose my level of interaction (or not!) from thereon out. I am also of the belief that my time here is too short to spend time, effort or energy on those who don’t groove with me :-)Warmly,Danielle

  5. Danielle Hatfield says:

    John, Thank you so much for writing this post.So many of us have been in situations where "the other person has mislead us, lied to us, or they have been using our expertise and business relationships for their own gain."It is when we discover the deception that the questions arise and the tough decisions begin. How do I handle this? What do I say to someone who is "friends" with me only to poach my clients/contacts and steal ideas? What do you say to someone who is deliberately sabotaging a project? What do you do when you are personally attacked for calling someone out on their underhanded behavior? How do you explain all of the people who want to see you fail? After reading your post today I found this quote – that explains things so perfectly. . ."People’s behavior makes sense if you think about it in terms of their goals, needs, and motives." -Thomas MannWhen someone has proven themselves untrustworthy – I waste no time distancing myself from their toxic behavior. I will never apologize for surrounding myself with honest, kind and trustworthy friends. It is an honor to call you a friend.

  6. Thank you so much Paul! The SWSWSW is incredible! I love that, and I am going to incorporate that :) You are a wonderful friend too PTT, thank you so very much for your compliments and comments!

  7. Thank you Ted! I agree, all relationships are based on trust – until proven otherwise. I appreciate you commenting!

  8. Good point Gina, it really is all real life and we sometimes have to lean on our support systems when something goes wrong. Thank you for your comments!

  9. Thank you Danielle, your comments are appreciated! The quote that you provided is so true; we should keep that in mind, while striving to surround ourselves with quality professionals and friends….like you!

  10. John, what a great post. The point is their should be no separation between online and offline(IRL) as some people call it. I do believe relationships take time and effort. I also believe that you should conduct yourself not matter which forum the same way that you want to be treated.

  11. Danielle, thank you for the comments, the Tweets and YOUR friendship! KLT – I love that!!! Let’s keep our end of the world positive :)

  12. I wonder whether incidences of hurtful behavior are more prevalant online than in real life, though I will NOT be the researcher to put a design together to answer that question. In one respect, we are anonymous online, facing a computer screen (or a mobile device) rather than a set of human eyes, which could make transgressions a little more tempting. Isolated people with bitterness to spread also have easy access to more people by utilizing Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. So far, my interactions on Twitter, to use one example, have been favorable (mostly). I’ve had the pleasure of meeting people I never would have without social media. But I agree, an occasional tendency to hurt others knows no boundary between on and offline interactions.

  13. Thank you, I appreciate that. Very interesting topic I think.

  14. Is it weird… | Joy of Traveling's Diaries… says:

    […] know how I was on about relationships yesterday, well- here‘s another interesting blog on it! I truly do wonder how does pinky promise translate online […]

  15. Well, we drew straws and I get to go first :) Here are my initial thoughts on this very important topic: -I’m not sure that it is becoming more commonplace. It may be our perception at times but it’s difficult, if not impossible to measure.-At the root, this is a human nature issue whether it be "IRL" or "virtual". Relationships are always "IRL" and the same principles apply. Having said that, it is true that in our marketing saturated world we are more inclined to believe and trust more than is warranted in the relationships that are buffered through cyberspace and photoshop.-If the same principles apply then the same strategies apply. For example, to address an offense it is appropriate to first meet privately with the person. If that has no effect then bring a witness or mutual friend into the discussion. The last resort is to go public and the goal is not only to correct or redress the offense but to keep it from happening to others. The temptation to "call them out" right away is strong but it’s usually based on a reaction that is revengeful in nature so a ‘cooling off’ period is advised. -The assumption that people are basically good at heart or basically bad may miss the point (and get bogged down in theology or psychology) I think the reality is that good and bad cuts through everyone so it takes discernment to know when and to what extent we will trust a particular person.-Finally :) – not if, but when people let us down: This is the test of our own principles and the point on which very big issues hinge – like world peace (I’m not joking) It will be a matter of fact that we will offend others (knowingly and otherwise) and that they will offend us (and we can’t always know their motives, if any). The critical issue is then what? Do I return ‘evil for evil’ or ‘be the change I want to see in the world’? All for now :) Next???

  16. Thanks Joe for the comments. We are putting ourselves out there more, so opportunities to be hurt are going to be more prevalent. Hopefully it is not getting worse.

  17. I love your comments and isight J. Spot on in so many ways! Thank you very much for sharing!

  18. Hi John,Dictionary.com’s definition of "relationship" is a "connection, association, or involvement" – which means that the web we spin online or offline use the same thread, and as J commented – the same rules apply. I think I treat my first encounters and friendships like you, JL – innocent and wonderful, until proven guilty and ugly. I always do my best to look for the good in folks, have them display it more often, and to minimize/overlook the negative attributes as much as possible. Most of the time, I am successful, and my online and offline connections are in harmony. But if some people are not very nice, arrogant, attack my belief systems, etc. I do my best to understand why and give the benefit of the doubt, and if that still doesn’t work…I’m going to just avoid them. Going out of my way to do collateral damage is not worth my time, nor is it who I am. I’d rather spend time with folks who have earned my trust – otherwise, I’d be doing those connections, and my gift of time on Earth, a disservice.Just like in my business and sales – SWSWSW. I’ll do my best to create a wonderful experience and give them NO REASON not to reciprocate, but if people still won’t make it easy to love, trust, befriend…I remember that "Some Will, Some Won’t, So What?" – there are just way too many wonderful people out there to (1) waste my time with bad people longer than I have to; and (2) increase the ratio of good folks in my life. It doesn’t sweat me. Powerful post, John – something that rarely gets thought of and/or brought to our awareness. I look forward to the next post in the series!And by the way – you are a wonderful friend, JL. You are worth going through millions of hurtful, stupid idiots to find =)

  19. Rochelle Veturis says:

    The comments are delicious on this post John. What a beneficial and meaningful discussion you started.Ohhh, the joys of bad behavior online. Google has a longer lasting memory than anything I’ve ever seen, so it still surprises me how often some feel the need to tear each other down in the cyberspace.There are too many brilliant and wise nuggets of truth above to list all the ones I liked. But they’re right. It’s not if someone hurts you but when, and how we deal with the scenario –in all its different flavors, is a barometer for what’s going on in our hearts. It’s the measure of our character and beliefs. The moment we really put the pedal to the metal.I love how J described dealing with difficult people and situations; it’s completely biblical and from experience, the highest road you can take.And I agree with Paul, “you are a wonderful friend, JL. You are worth going through millions of hurtful, stupid idiots to find.”Keep ‘em coming John. Another terrific post.

  20. John,This was a really thoughtful post. I appreciate the fact that any interaction — online or offline — is based on relationships of trust. The best course in life is to always remain positive and cut people a break … unless they deserve otherwise.

  21. Gina Parris says:

    Great ideas, John.As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think of our young people and how much more painful cyber-mean-ness can be to them. I am thankful for the power of community online and off. I know when I felt weirded- out by an online relationship, I ran to those of you in my online community (okay it was through email) but you all made me feel so safe that I didn’t ever have to lower myself to address the problem in public.To me, its ALL real life. Good questions.

  22. Leslie Carothers says:

    John, This post strikes close to my heart-I am so glad you wrote it.It brings up so much for me around that word, "trust." As you say, many of our relationships these days (especially for those of us in social media) start online vs. offline. We start out tweeting happy *good mornings* to each other and other kind things and, over time, might start helping each other in various other ways once in a while-as you and I have done. This has given me, at least, a lovely feeling of goodwill towards everyone I’m normally in communication with —consistently-over these past 2 years that I’ve been on twitter and that I’ve also met offline.However, I’ve had one very hurtful experience that has truly impacted my thoughts on the issue you bring up in this post- *trust.* Trust is at the heart of friendships. Because of what happened, I’ve had to examine what that word *friendship* really means when the relationship starts in 140.I’ve twisted this around in my mind for weeks now. Here’s what I think about it (today-but this could change ). A lot of people are on twitter as *personas* for the brands they represent. The person behind the *persona*- even though they are tweeting under their own name, is tweeting, at least partly and for money, for a brand and usually they are very transparent about it and/or the community comes to recognize that over time. Either way-it’s all good. Let’s take me. I tweet things for our clients BiOH and Gardner White. Anyone else you see me promoting is because it gives me pleasure. I have been offered furniture, wallpaper, etc. etc. but have turned down these things. If I tweet for a client, people are going to know it. I want people to know that @tkpleslie is the same person with the same feelings (both the good, the bad and the ugly) that you will meet offline. I’m not a *persona.* *Personas* usually have one mood or reflect one way of looking at things in order to create a *feeling/perception* around a brand.Do others have personas though, that don’t reflect who they are offline? Yep. Do others hurt others offline even when relationships have been formed offline over time? Yep. Have I been hurt this way. Yep. Will I call them out online? I have to be honest and say I’ve wanted to but I’ve thought about it a lot and decided not to. Why? I’ve made bad mistakes, too, that have been hurtful to others in my life. What’s written online sticks online forever and that’s not fair. We’re all human and have very human and painful moments that we regret. I have my very fair share of those…I know, from experience, that time will allow for the balm of forgiveness to heal my hurts.So here’s what I’ve really learned from my own experience and hope that others reading this comment might think about too: Be cautious and make sure to think about whether or not the offline interactions you’re having constitute a real friendship or just a good friendly business relationship. Thanks so much, John, for writing this post and giving us the space to reflect on this. I may change my own thoughts over time, but I really appreciate the dialogue you’ve opened up around the issue of online trust and what happens when that trust has been violated.

  23. Leslie, I remember you saying to me that you do not write much other than updates on Twitter; oh really? :-) I love your well thought out and very well written comments. I can tell from them that you have been hurt while dealing with online and offline relationships, just like we all have. Does that deter me from continuing to build new relationships? Absolutely not. I am just more cautious. Like you, calmer heads for me will typically prevail when considering calling people out online….I have made my own mistakes and hurt others in the past too. Thank you for your comments Leslie. I am fortunate to call you friend.

  24. Susan/TogetherWeFlourish says:

    What a great topic! No matter where we are, there are going to be people who intentionally or unintentionally will harm us. Whenever possible, try to do nothing for 24 hours. Let the emotion fade away before responding. Then, if you still feel the need, ask questions and try to understand why you are being attacked. Is it jealousy, resentment, have they been hurt in some way first? So, listen, understand and then respond if it’s appropriate. One thing I always try to keep in mind, and I’m not sure who said it first, but it so true "what other people think of you is really none of your business". Do your best to treat people right. If you make a mistake, apologize and then get back to your business and the business of caring for each other.

  25. Thanks Susan for your comments! Very good advice to wait 24 hours prior to responding….I like that!

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