Pride, the 6th Deadly Sin of Blogging

Nick told me last night about a debate that is raging over a company displaying and critiquing customer support emails. I don’t want to stir things up any more than has already happened but suffice to say a lot of their customers feel they are being disrespected. I am 100% sure the company in question, darling of web2.0 that it is, will recover from this and be even stronger but it did get me thinking. My last “blogging sins” post, Sloth, the 7th Deadly Sin of Blogging wasn’t really meant to be a series but I think this leads me neatly into another blogging sin; pride.

When we begin to receive the first signs we are on the right track and a little of the rewards of success it can easy to start believing we have all the answers. After all, things are going so well we must have done the right things which means of course we are “good at this stuff”.

Problem is that might not be so near to the truth as we think. Yes we might have made some right moves but also there is a great deal of luck involved as much as preparation, skill and intelligence.

We are all learning about blogging, it doesn’t matter how long you have been at it we can all learn something new every day. In fact I have learned more about blogging from questions asked here on the forums and PM system than I knew before we started.

Is there a possibility the guys I mention above have bought into their own hype and believe they know better than their customers about what their customers need? Are they so confident of their own worth that they don’t need feedback?

It seems in my experience that the phrase “pride comes before a fall” usually is very true. The best bloggers seem to retain a level of humility. Companies and bloggers who get more arrogant the more successful they become are usually due a kicking and inevitably get knocked down off their pedistals.

OK, I might be mixing up my definitions here, let’s dig out the dictionary:

A desire to be more important or attractive to others

I think most bloggers can recognise that. One motivation for blogging is to have our voices heard. While it’s important to serve your audience it is a temptation to make it all about the popularity contest and less about putting out good content.

There is a difference between aiming to please and playing to the crowd but it is not always easy to see where that line is. How do you avoid this? I guess deciding your own opinions, sticking to your guns, knowing when to change your mind or apologise? Be true to yourself? And don’t chase the approval of the A-List.

failing to give credit due others

We have all seen this one play out over and over. You see another blogger quote your content with no attribution or wholesale copy your work. Another is where you just know someone got their story from your blog but you don’t get a link or when someone thanks someone else for your story. Not much you can do about it as the victim but we can all make sure we link accurately and generously. Another reason to not use no-follow too.

Vanity and narcissism

Not much to say about this that hasn’t already been discussed here, hah.

love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbor

Perhaps this is a cause of all the back biting and sniping going on. When some people see others doing well they want to pull them down to elevate their own standing? The best way we can counteract this is by applauding good work by others and helping others get more visible. We do this in a small way by promoting good posts to our homepage for example.  Another thing that we can do is to stand up to bullies when we spot them.

a prideful person believes him/herself to be in complete control of things

I think this is where the company mentioned in the intro are at. They look at their sales figures and feel vindicated in everything they do without realising there are such things as “reputation equity” and “lifetime value”. Sometimes the publicity from a negative story can give a short term lift but the long term damage to public opinion can ruin the company. There are many examples of companies who did well in their “honeymoon period” then suffered in the backlash.

Bloggers can often believe their “following” have inpenetrable loyalty but in fact human beings are fickle. Any one of us can find we have limits to our loyalty when we see someone do things we disagree with. The best bloggers listen to their feedback early and comprehensively so the damage is minimal and short term, the most prideful end up falling on their swords.

So what to do?

I know we at Performancing, while often giving out advice, never feel like we have all the answers as we are constantly being shown that we don’t. You guys do not let us get too full of ourselves, hah. That has got to be the answer, listen to those around you who keep you grounded and be careful if you seem to have a cheering squad. It’s nice to constantly receive congratulatory feedback but it’s also essential to have balance, to know where you are going wrong. If you are not hearing it perhaps ask for it? If you think you have all the answers perhaps you are asking the wrong questions?