I find human behavior and interaction fascinating.

Since I started studying Social Media a few  years back, I noticed something many of you have too.

Personalities can often become more obvious, exaggerated, out of control, polished, refined and sometimes bolder with these tools, or gifts, we have been given that allow us to voice our opinions publicly.

Many of us feel empowered because we’re only responsible to our keyboard and a bunch of tiny photos, and we don’t have to really look anyone in the face, and feel their humanity when we shake their hands.

A while back, my friend Gini Dietrich wrote a blog post that was on many of our minds.  It had to do with rude comments left on her blog by people who had strong opinions about another post Gini wrote about dressing professionally, or looking the part.

Gini and I, as well as many others, were a bit surprised by how rude people can actually be sometimes.  I reacted to it because I’ve always had the strong feeling that human beings deserve to be shown respect at all times, not because they’re powerful, have more money, have less money, know more than we do, have a “better” job, or a host of other reasons you might imagine.

Human beings deserve respect because they are human beings…period.

It could stem from my dear Mom teaching all five of us that if we had nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  I’m not sure, but what I do know is that I respect others a great deal when I observe them respecting others.

I know, I know, not everyone has these personality traits that are so respectable.  I know there are human characteristics of all types. I wasn’t born yesterday, I’m not naive, and I didn’t just jump off the turnip truck.  I understand most of us arrive where we are in life based on thousands, maybe even millions, of little events that happen in our lives.

My advice is that if you are confident in your own skin, and know and like your personality, and how you want to portray it in business, as well as your personal life, and if it works for you, and you’re comfortable with the impact it has on others, then be that way to the fullest.

You are who you are.  I am who I am.

One of the very first discussions I have with people about their brand, and how to integrate it in to their current marketing efforts, regardless of whether the tools are traditional or new, is to help them define their brand.  We list words that describe them and their business.  If they allow me, and have the budget for this, I then go ask their clients and other stakeholders what words they use to describe my client.  If both sets of characteristics are consistent, great, we’re ready to move ahead.  If not, we have more to discuss.

As business owners, partners, employees, service providers, or however you like to describe yourself, you might know all of this in your heads, and don’t feel the need to commit it to paper or PC.  That’s fine.  My process and suggestions for you are the same.

Figure out what it is you want to convey to all you care about communicating with, then go about conveying it. No, you don’t have to show every side of you if that isn’t part of doing business with you.  If it is, and you want people to know about it, then that’s your decision.

If you’re full of energy, passion and drive, and you’re okay with people knowing that, then show it.  If you are serious and contemplative, show that. If you are dark and brooding, show that.  If you are rude and like to bully people, show that, but please see my P.S. below when you’re finished.

When you choose to communicate who you really are, know that you will attract those who are either like you, like your type, are amused by you, are intimidated by you, or want to use you as a case study in how to act, or how to not act as the case may be.

Also know that this brand of yours has an impact on other human beings, both good and bad.  When you get to the point that you are comfortable with this brand of yours, this guarantee that these characteristics are what people are going to get consistently when they meet and work with you, then commit yourself to being yourself without fail so that others can decide whether they really want to be around you, want to do business with you, and sometimes even want to help you succeed.

P.S.  If I had my druthers, I’d ask that the bullies give up trying to make others look bad by making fun of them, or being rude to them, or constantly pointing out what they think they are doing wrong, but I know that’s just my wish because….

You are who you are.  I am who I am.

Any thoughts to add?

My sincere thanks to Michael for the Flickr image used above.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • At least for me it has always been a question of how much do I share? What is appropriate? Who may I offend? Who will embrace this? How will it affect my business? I recently retweeted a post I thought had merit, but used strong language. Although I advised as such, I remained concerned about being offensive.
    Nancy you clarify these questions with “My advice is that if you are confident in your own skin, and know and like your personality, and how you want to portray it in business, as well as your personal life, and if it works for you, and you’re comfortable with the impact it has on others, then be that way to the fullest.” The dichotomy of appreciating the strong language post, that did not offend me, or offending others, can be answered by considering the level of comfort with the impact. Thanks for the lesson.

  • Hi Randy…thank you for such a thoughtful comment, and for sharing an example of your own. I think there’s often a bit of art, and a lot of emotion, that goes in to deciding how to interact with other human beings, isn’t there? I always appreciate your words.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention What personality do you use in Social Media? --

  • There are so many different things I have to say about this post. The first is, thank you for bringing me into your own community through a thoughtful and kind post!

    Randy, I have a short story to share with you. Last May (2009), I was in Beaver Creek with friends for Memorial Day weekend. My friend Erin and I had spent the day hiking a 14er and had some serious adrenaline going on, plus we’d both had a glass of wine so we were having a great time (I’m tiny so one drink is enough, let alone at 10,000 feet). Erin LOVES Keanu Reeves. I mean, LOVES. And we always tease her that he’s homosexual so she should choose a celebrity crush that would actually mean something if she met him. Well, I tweeted something along the lines of teasing Erin about Keanu being gay and a prospective client saw the tweet. He wrote me a long and very nasty email about how he doesn’t do work with homophobic company leaders and he would be finding another firm to help him with his marketing. You could look at this as it was good we found out before he became a client, but it was a very valuable lesson for me: Never put something out there that could be offensive to anyone. He perceives me as homophobic, which is as far from the truth as can be, but that’s now his reality.

    Nancy, I’m like you…I’m not naive, but it sure would be nice if everyone were nice to each other. But then, I guess we’d have world peace, wouldn’t we?

    I think it was Bill Gates that said, “Always be nice to the nerds. You never know where they’re going to end up in life.”

  • Nancy great post. I don’t often comment on “touchy feely” non-financial posts like this (just kidding) but you hit the concept of the lack of basic civility online right on the head. I was involved in a two Linkedin discussions recently where many of the comments got very personal and were extremely mean-spirited. In both cases I have made a mental note to never do business with several of the folks involved and to avoid one like the plague should I run into him at a future local seminar (which is fairly likely to happen). In the case of this individual I blocked him on Twitter late last year because I found myself getting so enraged by some of his comments. Perhaps he is just being himself, too bad because I consider him to be very bright and knowledgable in my industry.

    Healthy debate and even disagreements are a good thing. I find that I learn a lot from these types of encounters. But at the end of the day, it is just a discussion. I recall back in my corporate days I was the stick in the mud financial guy who always questioned the marketing product manager’s sales forecasts. Two of the PMs were good friends of mine. We would argue pretty heatedly, then often go out for lunch or a beer afterwards.

  • Gini, it’s my pleasure to bring you in to my community. You were already a part of it! What a great story. There’s a great deal to be learned from your experience. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Nancy,

    You hit the nail right on the head with this post. Communicating with people via social media is sort of like walking down a busy street in New York City and talking to people based on a few similar traits. To make this even stronger, your communication is then broad-casted for the world to see in most cases (twitter for example). Personality types are bound to disagree once in a blue moon and assumptions can be made.

    What Gini mentioned above is a real-life example of what goes on in the social media sphere when assumptions are made. She is one of the most helpful people I know on twitter too! (far from what was assumed).

    Great post Nancy!

  • Roger, thank you for your valuable comment. Your situation was very interesting. Yes, people are sometimes oddly empowered, or uncovered, by the veil of the keyboard and a computer monitor. Heated argument and discussion is a good thing, and is more fruitful when all sides remember civility is an acceptable part of any discussion, and does not dilute the discussion.

  • Thanks, Samantha, for your comment, and for your analogy to people walking down the street discussing a topic. Some out there have fun demeaning those who operate in the “Happysphere” by always being supportive, friendly and positive, but that’s their challenge, not the challenge of anyone else.

  • Thanks for a great post, Nancy.

    I love your seemingly simple (but often ignored) point: “Human beings deserve respect because they are human beings…period.” Two words: Amen sister.

    I, too, was taught from a very early age that you treat *everyone* with respect. As a young professional, I often wonder how people who are nasty “make it,” in business (or anywhere in life, really). Though, often times, I end up feeling bad for the unkind people of the world, as it becomes quite obvious that they aren’t happy with themselves.

    Happy Friday! 🙂

  • So here’s a funny story and a great lesson. I was in medical manufacturing for a very long time, (not the funny part.) We as a management team got our first blackberries. This is when they just on the market. It was supposed to change our world! So we had a meeting in a conference room where we were in a horse shoe configuration and one of the guys we always made fun of was sitting directly across from me. Sooooo, being the clown that I am, I started texted to my fellow management team silly things and then said to my buddy next to me, watch this….. I texteded “your fly is open” and waited for the response. As we waited, nothing happened with our little buddy but the CEO next to him looked down at his BB and checked his fly. Then I had a glare!!!! Shortly after that a “memo” went out about BB abuse! YEah……. Not nice, Jan, not nice!

  • Thanks for taking time to stop by. I truly appreciate your comments about the post, and for sharing our similarities in values. I’m with you. I am often in awe that those who are nasty excel….perhaps because others are intimidated by them, and are only interested in the bottom line. Again, thanks for being here. Please come again, and have a wonderful weekend!

  • Hi Jan…oh my, what a story. I can only imagine how that felt! I had to chuckle, as I’m sure you did after a bit of time passed! Have a great weekend!

  • Love the post, a needed topic to look at. I think media places a fake blinder on some folks, making them think that it’s ok to address others online in a derogatory manner, because no one knows their true identity (or do they?).

  • Thanks for your thoughts, Godserv, and for your BEAUTIFUL image that you graciously allowed me to use! Your work is stunning! 🙂

  • You are welcome Nancy and tnx for the link. God bless you.

  • Our life in the social media world opens some of us up like never before. In the old days, the common advice in professional circles was never to talk about sex, religion or politics. Now, if you have a Facebook profile and unless you either (1) segregate your contacts, or (2) keep your comments to postings of your kid’s picnic, you run the risk of letting people know something about the real your – and some people might not like it.

    I taught a lot on my Facebook profile about religion and politics – and occasionally about sex too if the mood strikes me. Some of the most interesting comments I get on these postings are from my fellow laywers – because we like to talk and we are good at argument.

    Of course, I don’t advise this for everybody – in fact, I don’t advise it at all and if you think that you may offend a client or a potential client with discussions on a social media platform – just don’t make them.

    I choose to because I consider my Facebook profile to be a kind of personal magazine and if you are interested in what interests me and want to talk about it, well, come on over.

    That being said, ALL discussions, even political discussions, should be handled in an adult fashion without derision, irony or sarcasm.


  • Your last sentence is very important Nils. Thank you for your continued friendship and support. They are greatly appreciated.

  • Clearly we all agree with Nancy’s comments, thanks Nancy.

    There is so much out there talking about social media and how one should present oneself. But so much of this commentary is based around old fashioned advice, as Nils points out. I believe the way we interact in the work environment has changed dramatically over the last 50 years, and changed most in the last 15. We are now far more casual in the way we interact within our organisations and with clients, and in the online world we can see an extension of this, which I think is a good thing. Today, it’s a lot easier to find people you know you like, trust and believe in, than ever before (or at least I think so anyway).

    Nancy writes, “When you choose to communicate who you really are, know that you will attract those who are either like you, like your type, are amused by you, are intimidated by you, or want to use you as a case study in how to act, or how to not act as the case may be”, and I think this is true. By following this mantra of communicating who you truly are you will likely end up working with people that have similar values and you end up enjoying working with them. Imagine that, a client/vendor roster of people you actually want to be around and work with, now that’s worth its weight in gold!

    It’s old theory though Nancy, in sales it’s called ‘mirroring’. Only this time, you’re not trying to mirror the potential client, you are just being yourself and letting them find a reflection they think looks familiar.

    I think there is a bit of mirroring going on on this post too, no?

    Well done on boiling it down.

  • Phil, what a great reply…thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. Yes, the tools we have been given (I call them gifts) allow our potential clients to find those service providers they know, like and trust so much quicker than at any time in history. Thank you for stopping by to share your perspective with us. Please come again!

  • I am all for ‘keeping it real’, however using a little tact in social interactions can make the world a better place!

  • Udayan, yes, keeping it real while being strategic is very important. These are valuable tools we have been given, so using them as you suggest is important. Have a good day!