This week we're taking a break from our Now What? Series to talk about an issue that I have noticed has become increasingly important and overlooked.
Let me preface this by saying that this topic came about through a conversation I was having with my husband. He works for a large insurance broker, and he always says some of the best advice he's received is to treat everyone like a client.
What does this mean?
Treating everyone like a client means that you are not only treating them with respect (the Golden Rule), but you're also treating them like their opinion matters. This can be especially difficult when dealing with other authors/writers.
We like to believe that we're an elite class and that we're "better than everyone else" because we've done things that seem impossible to others. And sometimes this elitist behavior can alienate the ones we need to keep close. But our goals should be the complete opposite!
As a fellow author said to me in a conversation, our jobs as a community is to support other authors. We should share their work, as well as our own. It lends a unique credibility to others works when we do something as simple as share their blog post or retweet their book ad.
But what if it's not reciprocated?
You can't control what everyone else is doing. You can't control the advice you'll receive when sharing with your community, and you can't control your community's actions, only your own.
Another issue that I've noticed in my circle is that other authors are quick to judge. If someone shares something they're proud of, people are all too happy to jump on the bandwagon to shoot them down. Instead of offering constructive criticism, they say things that are immediately unhelpful, and lend to the self-doubt that we as authors are already prone to.
Why do this? Why put someone down for their hard work?
Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but sometimes those opinions should be kept quiet. Instead, offer advice about things that could be better, and things that were done right. That's the true crux of community; realizing that we are more powerful to one another if we are helpful.
I believe that sometimes we forget that it's not just us and our notebook, computer, or cat in our lap and a cup of coffee. To make a community truly strong, we need to treat one another like our advice matters, and that starts with being less critical and more helpful.
It starts with treating everyone like they are a client.
So my challenge to you is this: help your community. Uplift your fellow authors. Show them where things can be improved, but do it from a place of genuine compassion. Praise their effort. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.