The previous post looks at companies that help those that already have stuff on the Internet they want to go away, be deleted, be erased from the memories of man and machine.
Being proactive is always better than being reactive, so keep your name free of mud with these tips in mind whenever posting anything online — that includes comments and forum posts. These tips apply to writing emails and letters, and leaving messages.
1. Expect everyone to read it
That includes a potential employer and even your mom or some other family member that you don’t like to share with. But then again, if you don’t want them reading it, do you really want others to read it? Postings also reveal insight into a person’s personality (see #4).
I was going to post an experience on my Bionic Ear blog to give people insight in how a deaf person feels in a situation. But I opted not to share the experience. Though the blog aims to show the public what it’s like to be in a deaf person’s shoes, some experiences might be too personal to share and don’t belong online.
2. Wait 24 hours
If you’re mad, frustrated or sad, let time pass before responding to avoid regretting anything. Obviously, don’t post while drunk or on specific medicines, but who thinks clearly during these situations?
3. Run it by someone else
When you’re not sure about something, ask a trusted friend, colleague or family member to read it first.
While it’s best to resolve problems and uncomfortable situations in person or on the phone, it’s not always possible. In these situations, I ask a family member to read my note before sending.
4. Think of the future
Before writing a complaint, consider you could someday interview with the company or person you complain about. If not an employer, then remember that complaints can reveal how a person thinks and reacts to situations that bother him. Discussing an issue logically gets a different response than one that sounds like whining.
When I was unhappy with a company’s handling of an issue, I waited until things calmed down (#2). It was worth sharing since others might benefit from the experience. So I used a generic name instead of the company’s name.
5. Respond wisely
In some cases, someone could write something negative about you or your company. Rather than ask the person to remove the content, prepare an appropriate response.
Simply accepting responsibility says more. Try, “I’m sorry you had a bad experience. We’re investigating the situation to see how we can do better. Can we offer a free replacement?” While something negative is out there — mistakes happen to everyone — it’s how you respond to those mistakes that make a difference.
I messed up a client task. Immediately, I e-mailed the client admitting my mistake, apologized, and provided a discount on my next invoice.