After writing more than 700 Encouragers, here are my hard-learned rules of online engagement.
There are no rules.
At least not any I’ve been able to figure out.
I actually think that school leaders and communicators are more into “personal preferences,” not rules, anyway.
Given that you are likely to fall into the “people person” category, this makes sense to me.
It’s your nature to want to please.
So, here are the “preferences” I battle every time I write an Encourager.
#1 Whenever I reference our family dog (Macie) in an Encourager, it generates a wonderful response from readers. They ask about Macie (not me) and also send photos and brief stories about their dogs. It’s kinda fun, to tell you the truth!
But go figure. If I try to tell you about a whiz-bang bus safety flyer or something, it’ll fall flat. 100%. All I have to do is [insert photo of pet here] – and tah-dah! I instantly become Mr. Popular! (Well, relative to people who actually are popular, that is.)
#2 Whenever my wife Cindy tells me that a particular Encourager is the “dumbest thing she’s ever seen” and that I’d be wise to not email it out, I’ll inevitably get many nice responses back after I do. I love it! (Not that they’re disagreeing with Cindy, though. They’re just evil enough to enjoy seeing me squirm at home.)
#3 Whenever I write an Encourager I think is a sure-fire winner, I’ll send it out and inevitably within 60 seconds I’ll get responses back asking me why I didn’t seek Cindy’s input from the get-go. (Urgh.)
#4 Whenever I reference growing up with my three brothers Flint, I garner several nice replies. And then, if I happened to mention in passing that my mom always ran our home with her “wooden spoon within reach,” YOWZA! That tidbit sure strikes a popular chord!
One superintendent about 150 miles away sent me a photo of a T-shirt awhile back and said I should apply for membership in the “wooden spoon survivor” club! I’ll probably do this sometime… and I just hope she’ll put in a good word for me. There aren’t too many clubs out there who’ll accept me on my own merit!
Luckily, for me, our merry band of school leaders and communicators isn’t one of them.
Good humor and grace are the rules, not the exceptions when it comes to our professional organizations.
Just like the parents we serve, we know what we like!
We’ll choose personal interest and the human approach over the theorizing and preaching coming down from the ivory tower every time.
But you should know… since I’m being totally honest here… that there’s something about the safety of an ivory tower that appeals to me.
Oh well… maybe some day.
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