As a fashion blogger, I often find inspiration in our community and its members– the discussions we have, the questions we ask, and the ideas we share. As a writer for IFB, I often find those topics worthy of a larger discussion within the community. Sometimes they're a bit controversial and I love to read the reactions of our members. Other times I may be uncertain or confused about my own feelings. IFB, and our blogs, can be a great resource for talking and communicating.
What do you do though, when someone takes offense at what you may be saying? Maybe you don't mention them by name, but discuss an activity you didn't know they participate in. Maybe you reference a project they are working on, with the goal of opening up a greater discussion of the benefits and setbacks of those kinds of engagements. And someone's feelings get hurt. It could be a blogger who you greatly admire and respect. It could be a blogger you've never had any interactions with, or it could be one you're vaguely familiar with.
Regardless of who they are, communication broke down and you should both respond in the best possible way. Afterall, your goal isn't to alienate or isolate bloggers, but to welcome them in to the discourse.
How to Soften the Blow
There are ways to handle this situation– both before you've posted the article and afterwards (in the event of unexpected fallout):
- Talk to the source first– explain to them the discussion you want to have, the ideas/questions/opinions you had, and what their thoughts are on it.
- Refer to the original inspiration/blogger and their ideas in a positive light.
- If someone is the inspiration for something, and they feel it is negatively reflected on them, be sure to point out positive features of them & their ideas.
- Invite them to participate in the discussion and share their viewpoints! Quotes and interviews can be an amazing addition to a post, and providing the readers with more to think about and discuss is never a bad thing.
- Make it clear that your opinions are expressly yours and not the blogger in question (unless that blogger DOES share your same opinion!).
- Acknowledge their feelings and let them know you genuinely do understand and care about their viewpoints. Ask follow up questions if you're concerned you've been misinterpreted yourself. Point out the value in what they are saying.
- Above all, in all aspects and components, be genuine, sincere, and nonjudgmental.
Blogging is a very small, very tight knit community. No one wants to be mocked, made fun of, misinterpreted, or misunderstood, especially given the time, energy, and efforts we are all putting in to our sites. At the same time, there are great discussions to be had in the community and oftentimes they can't be had without people putting aside their insecurities to open up the topic to a greater audience.
How do you handle delicate situations with your fellow bloggers?