For The Love Of Debate

Businessman Pointing at PaperA good friend of mine once told me, “If you took the popular opinion there would be no reason to write.” He’s right. Writing gives us a voice. It allows for discussion, debate, and for our knowledge to grow as a result. In addition to learning, a debate can open doors to new relationships. That’s how Kasey and I became friends. I disagreed with a post he wrote and needed to understand where he was coming from. I approached him via direct message, which turned into a great discussion, resulting in a blog post for PRBC and a valued friendship. So today, Kasey and I would like to encourage the PRBC community to act as a contrarion. You’d be amazed at what you will learn.

I approached Kasey with this post because we noticed a lot of “cheerleading” going on in the blogosphere. Blog posts are flooded with “great post” and “you are spot on” comments. While it’s great to give credit to good ideas and thoughts, these comments rarely add to the discussion. Now we’re not saying everyone should go out and leave rude and obnoxious comments, but dig a little deeper and challenge each other to thought-provoking discussions. Here are some rules that Kasey and I came up with that will help you open respectfully comment on something you don’t agree with and hopefully prevent you from getting black balled in the community.

Respect. Would you kiss your mother with that mouth? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Check the curses, insults and bad-mouthing at the door.

What value are you adding? Comments are meant to add value to the post. Bring new ideas and questions that the author didn’t answer. Create a discussion. When you leave a comment, ask yourself, “How will this add to the post? What will the readers get out of my comment?” If you feel the comment won’t add anything substantial, go straight to the source and hold the discussion off the blog. (Note: If its about spelling or grammar, don’t leave a comment. Go straight to the author.)

Keep in mind it isn’t your post. Remember who’s blog the article is appearing on. Don’t disagree simply to disagree or hear yourself talk. No one likes people who use comments to disagree and then leave linkbait back to a post you wrote or back to your blog.

Length. Short and simple. If you read a post over 600 words, do you think people want to read a comment that is 400 words? Nope. Keep it short to engage the author. Hopefully you’ll create a dialogue and if your questions aren’t answered you’ll use the next tip:

Follow up.Don’t be afraid to take the discussion off the post. E-mail, instant message, Skype. These are all communication platforms I use daily. My personal favorite is the instant message. This way you can track exactly what you’re saying and perhaps create a follow up post. You never know where the relationship may lead or what you may learn.

A great example of follow up is this co-authored post by Kasey and Rachel Kay. Rachel tweeted that every PR person needed to be active on Twitter and LinkedIn. Kasey didn’t completely agree and responded via Twitter. The topic received a lot of discussion and unfortunately, Twitter limits the conversation that a community can have. In efforts to continue the conversation, Kasey reached out to her and they decided to dedicate a thought-provoking post on the subject. Even though he was in the minority, as Rachel is 100x smarter than him, the post ended up being a great learning experience for him. He took a stance and went against the crowd. Even though they disagreed, they shared mutual respect for one another and went about the discussion in a professional manner.

So often we’re afraid to voice our opinion, whether it be fear of thinking we’re wrong or the fear of angering someone. Forget that. The community at large will benefit from taking conversations to the next level. Today we challenge everyone to voice their opinion and don’t be afraid or hesitant to disagree. We would love to hear about your experiences too.

Note: Special thanks to Kasey, for co-writing this post and brainstorming some important tips.

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