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You're So Vain, You Probably Think This Post is About You

I have been actively participating in the ActiveRain community for almost eight months, and I have seen  misunderstandings, disagreements, even anger (from myself and from others) over perceived wrongs.  However, I have also seen some terrific friendships blossom, along with very genuine support from virtual strangers.  I have laughed harder with some of my AR friends than with people I knew from grade school.  For that, I am thankful.

At any rate, I was thinking about my own experiences during my real estate career, and how they equate to AR.  I have had a number of occasions as a real estate agent and broker when I dreaded meeting with someone based on our previous email and/or phone confrontations.  I have never been one to seek arguments or debate, although I have become much more accustomed to dealing with problems that may arise.  However, almost invariably I have been pleasantly surprised when I meet that difficult individual "in person" and we get along just fine. 

I have found that many people act much tougher/difficult/ argumentative when they are writing an email, much less tough over the phone, and least tough in person.  Text and phone calls are really not a perfect medium of communicating, although it is fun to try, I suppose.  That is part of living in the world today.  Mixed messages happen.

On a personal note, I was ridiculously sensitive as a child, and, if I am being honest, I am still that way as an adult, too.  I still cry at the drop of a hat at sad movies (or sad books, or touching songs, or McDonald's commercials).  I was raised for the most part by my mom and my grandfather, both of whom were very open with their emotions. 

While being sensitive can be great sometimes, perhaps in our capacity as a parent or friend or spouse, it is not always the best for every business situation.  I am generally a people pleaser, and I want to get along with everyone.  However, I also used to have a strong tendency to take everything personally, even when it had nothing to do with me.  I have seen this happen with other people online many times, both here and elsewhere. 

People get worked up over nothing important all too often, and threats are seen where none exist.  In my case, I think that 37 years of life, 15 years of marriage, 11 years of real estate, and 9 years of parenting have given me a peace that not everyone is going to like me, but that's okay.  My wife thinks that everyone does indeed like me, but I know that is simply not true, because some people are crazy or stupid, or perhaps both.  :-)

I was speaking to a friend of mine from AR not long ago, and I made the comment that if all of the people who disagree with each other and dislike each other on ActiveRain were actually placed into a room or party with each other, they would probably get along just fine.  In fact, I have even heard anecdotal evidence of this happening at conferences and gatherings.

Some of the problems that I have witnessed arise when people take liberties that they wouldn't take if they were sitting across the table from you.  It never ceases to amaze me how civil people become when they are looking at your face.  I like to think that I am the same guy either way, whether in person or in the "virtual world", but I know that I have offended others at different times, often unknowingly.  If you are reading this and I have somehow offended you, I certainly didn't mean to do that.

I guess the point of this post is to remind us all to seriously consider the harsh comments that we make, or emails that we send.  The person who is on the other end is just that - a person.  There's probably no reason to vilify anyone here, since most of us really have the same goals in mind, namely, to generate some additional business and hopefully make some friends along the way. 

And no, I am not upset with ANYONE right now.  I really just thought this was an interesting viewpoint and I wanted to share it.  Let me re-iterate that - this is not directed at anyone specific, it's just me thinking "out loud" after watching the interactions of a few thousand people over time.  Think of me as an amateur sociologist in this case if that helps. 

Thanks for reading!

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