Here’s an observation – especially in today’s world of frayed nerves and insta-snark kneejerk replies at anyone who’s even perceived at being “out of line”.
What if the person reaching out to you didn’t intend it the way you interpreted it?
We’d all go a lot farther by giving folks grace and assuming positive intent.
An example from my personal experience –
Recently I read a really great book. Inside that book, the author mentioned an online forum.
I thought, “self, that sounds like an awesome place run by an awesome author – let’s go check it out”.
I got to the page, saw a link to log in or sign up, and then signed up.
Then… nothing. For over a week. It just kept saying my membership was in the process of being approved. So I’d check every other day or so to see if it’d gone through (’cause I love me some online forums, as many of you know). And one day, the system kicked back my login info as “unrecognized”.
I thought… well that’s weird. Maybe after sitting in an approval queue for a bit, it just resets?
So I signed up again. And I looked for a contact form. I sent in an email saying, “hey I tried to sign up for this thing and I keep getting error messages. Is there something else I need to be doing in order to complete the process?”
Shortly thereafter I got a message from the author of the book (!!!???!!!woooooooooot). I open it up and my heart sank –
I don’t recognize your name. On what basis are you signing up to join this site? You have to be invited or pay.
I mean I DID ask (at least I’m pretty sure I asked) what I needed to do to join… so like, telling me it’s a private paid forum and sending me a link to sign up would have been totally appropriate here.
I was confused by the response but I wanted to help get to the root of the confusion – so I wrote back:
Hi there,I saw it mentioned in a book I purchased, and the book didn’t mention it was paid/by invitation only so I decided to join because it sounded like a great community.If that’s the case, then no worries.
As a follow-up – had I seen an opportunity to pay to join, I would have already done so as:1) I already recommend your books and trainings to all my students, and2) I’ve already had tremendous experiences with paid membership forums ranging from $99/year to $2500+.
I’m not looking for a freebie, but simply didn’t see anywhere that mentioned it was a paid membership or that gave me an opportunity to purchase a membership.
I’m sorry you interpreted it that way, but no one else has had that problem. I have a free, public blog, and dozens of free newsletters, audio, video, and so on you can access on my site.
I like this author. I have already received a lot of value from reading several of their books. I also see being part of the community as being incredibly valuable – both for me and for the community, because I know I have a lot to offer in terms of marketing expertise and coaching.
So instead of tapping into the frustration I felt and going full ham, I simply wrote back:
I wonder if we’re having a miscommunication?Again, not seeking a freebie. Was interested in joining a forum I thought would be valuable based on the incredible value I already received from the materials I purchased. Didn’t see an opportunity to pay to join, so simply chose the “sign up” button I saw on the page.If that’s not a forum that’s available to me, either because it’s paid or not available to the public, then that is fine. I am already a follower of your free works and was more interested in getting further involved in the community.
Do you see what I’m trying to get at here?
There are two key takeaways here for me:
The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth, and I admit to thinking long and hard about whether I wanted to join after that interaction.
Thankfully I’ve received a lot of value from other works I’ve purchased from this author over the years. So this time I’m going to chalk it up to a bad day (or these crazy times we’re all dealing with) and give the author the grace I wish I’d been given.
Maybe I’ll sign up next week.