Thursday, October 25, 2012

Honey vs. Vinegar

I'm a fan of the saying, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

Can I use vinegar if a situation calls for it? Yes. But vinegar's more drinkable with honey in it, so I always try to bear in mind that most folks don't perceive themselves as villains. (Which helped me figure out that my brother's at his most obnoxious when he's tired—something I had trouble figuring out, because I'm an early bird, he a night owl, so by the time he's tired, I'm exhausted and irritable.)

Case in point: Piracy doesn’t bother me.

I see some fellow authors get frothing mad over book piracy and its potential negative impact on sales (ignoring that there are also case studies showing potential positive effects)…and my opinion is that they aren't doing their health any favors. Life has enough stress, so why stress over something that happens?

With my years as a freelancer ghostwriting web content, it has happened. If I were to fret over it, I'd have an ulcer and nothing productive to show for it.

Will I send C&D letters if I find my work pirated? Yes. Will I get stricter than that if necessary? Yes.

But there's a world of difference between being firm or stern and being so angry that I can't see straight. Piracy might make me sigh, at worst. A repeat offender would irritate me. But furious?

Nah. Bad for my health.

Fury isn't too productive for getting folks to listen to you, either, because all that comes out is vinegar.

Ask nicely, and folks who didn’t intend to steal your content will repair things and go about things properly in the future. Whereas if you’re a witch from the start, you lose potential customers who didn’t intend to steal from you but who like your writing enough to want to use and share it.

Folks who don’t care, who insist content should be free—they don’t care what you think. But I’ve discovered that, again, presenting my side of the argument pleasantly and politely is far more likely to get a long-lasting positive response.

Once you have to get harsh, you lose the chance of making an honest customer and fan of the erstwhile thief. You also lose the chance to convince them to agree with you, so while you might win for yourself, you do nothing for all the others whose content the person then goes on to take.

This concept even applies to things like online games.

I'm a high enough level now in RuneScape that I often don't have to worry about other players stealing my kills and such out from under me, but recently a lower-level player was having trouble with someone suddenly mining the same rocks he was and taking all the ore. The lower-level player started off sharp about it, but I suggested he ask nicely.

After a bit of trying to converse with the thief, we discovered that his first language was Dutch, not English. I used Google Translate to say something along the lines of "It's considered rude to take another person's rock." The guy apologized and immediately went looking for somewhere else to mine.

And I have more success stories than that, many more successes than all the failures I see when folks get antagonistic.

Many more successes than when I get antagonistic, for that matter.

I do hate being antagonistic.

I actually don't much care for conflict, either, though I'll step over that dislike if I have sufficient cause.

But in any case, I find honey far healthier and more productive than vinegar.

Are you more inclined to use honey or vinegar?


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