Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Be Careful What You Wish For
I like answering business and career development questions for people and I love to write, so I figured inviting people to participate in my online Forum would be fun and easy. Well, it is fun - quite fun and gratifying, too, given how quickly questions started arriving - but it's harder than I anticipated. There's a difference between talking in person with someone and writing an answer for posting and public consumption. Context is missing, I guess. I thought I just gave my perspective and my thoughts to people who ask me these kinds of questions when I give speeches. Evidently, though, I don't simply say what I say, drawing on my experience; without realizing it, I must be personalizing my advice. Turns out that even with total strangers, there are cues when we're face-to-face that are missing when all I have is a question. Writing an answer without a face to read is a whole different deal. It doesn't bother me to compose fiction or nonfiction in a vacuum and then send my words out to have what impact they will, but there's something so personal about individual career questions. They are so heartfelt and sometimes they require the asker to be so vulnerable. I want very much to reach the person who has taken the time to ask me a question, to answer her in a way she can hear, relate to and use. I sure hope I'm doing that. And then there are all the other people who will read the answer, people about whom I know absolutely nothing. Yikes!