I’ve been involved in the bath and body industry since I was 16 years old.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of ways of communicating important
soapmaking information come and go. AOL chat rooms, Yahoo Groups, Forums,
LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Ning networks – you name it, there are a lot of
ways to communicate with other people that love soap, soapmaking and all
things having to do with anything and everything you can put on your body.
It is astounding to me with so many forms of communication that we still
manage to misunderstand each other. I have seen more fights start online over
seemingly insignificant things (Are fragrance oils toxic? Is Cold Process
soap inherently better because it’s a more complex process? Hey! I had the
idea to make Watermelon Soap before you did!) end in horribly hurt feelings,
sides taken, friends and communities broken apart.
99% of the time, these end-all-be-all fights started with a
simple misunderstanding. If the parties involved had been sitting in front
of eachother, they would have figured it out, laughed it off and moved on.
But online, you can’t see body language. You can’t see the twinkle in the
eye when someone’s joshin’ you. And, you can’t be reminded that the person
on the other side of the computer is the same as you – genuinely nice but
like all humans, genuinely flawed.
There’s a phrase I use at least a few times a week when I see
something online that makes me pause. “Assume goodwill. It’s easier.” I
learned this from my Mama when I was very young but like all lessons my Mom
generously shared, it took me about 30 years to figure out that she was not
only right but brilliant!.
So next time you’re online and someone says something you are wondering
about, leaves you out of a conversation or otherwise irritates you to the
point of wanting to lash out, assume goodwill. It’s easier.