How Not to Leave A Comment

There is one comment I feel bad about leaving. I haven’t thought about it in some time. Now I realize that tucked into the guilt of that experience is a lesson.

The comment I left was on a post about a personal sort of declaration. It was fun to read and quite inspiring. Subjectively, I felt that if it was my declaration, I would have added one more thing, so I of course left a comment about it.

I failed to mention If it was me writing this for myself, I would add.. and instead, started the comment with I would add… and really, that gave a whole different impression.

I saw a few potential responses that the person made before they deleted them and the comment. It was clear that what I had done was unintentionally sound like exactly the kind of person I don’t want to be.

So why did it happen?

Short answer: I wasn’t thinking.

Longer answer: I wasn’t taking the time to empathize and imagine myself reading those words from the point of view of the blogger.

Some posts invite input or advice; others do not. It is too easy to just dribble out my first thoughts; it was bound to lead to trouble at some point.

There are many benefits to thinking through a comment. Some of them include:

  • You might make that blogger’s day.
  • You might help another reader see something cool that they wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.
  • You might entice people to find your blog to guzzle up more of your unique knowledge or sparkling wit.
  • You might learn something because you are taking the time to think, rather than just verbal-diarrheaing on that person’s comment space.

Had I stopped to actually think about where that blogger was mentally when writing the post, I would have probably realized that my little subjective thought wasn’t useful to anyone but me. Sometimes, it is best to keep things to ourselves.

Other times, it is best to share them. You might have something useful to add, or the blogger is asking for your reflections and reactions. In that case, here are some tips that can make your comment useful, or at least, un-hurtful, in my humble beginner’s opinion:

  • Mention something from the post that you enjoyed so that the blogger ends up knowing what they did right; especially if they are a writer.
  • Answer whatever questions or prompts they left you with.
  • Take about 60 seconds to actually reflect on the post if it was a potent one for you. Let your body feel how it impacted you. Write sincerely.
  • Perhaps read the comment when you are done and see if it makes sense.

I’m not in any way saying that every comment should be some work of literary genius, although that would be nice. If you are like me, the feeling that you perhaps caused a negative reaction in someone is a bit unpleasant bordering on painful. You didn’t want to do that. You just wanted to help.

I’m as guilty as the next person of scrolling through the blogs I follow, reading the posts that catch my attention and writing out a quick comment to tell the person that I liked it. But maybe, at least sometimes, I can do more than that. That is my intention.

What about you, how do you feel about the comments you give and receive? I feel as if my blog has attracted people who are masters at leaving comments, and I always love what you guys have to say.

Have you ever left a comment you regretted, like me? Or is it one of those Jen-thinks-too-much kind of situations?

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46 thoughts on “How Not to Leave A Comment

  1. Jen, you give some very helpful tips.

    I occasionally agonize about leaving comments. The posts which I’m often inspired to comment on, tend to be very personal outpourings that have resonated with me–also the most touchy ones to comment on. Often I am silent, not knowing what is the right thing to say to comfort the writer, and afraid to express my own feelings which may be more egocentric than is appropriate at the time.

    I will definitely start using the tips you gave, especially the first one!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I feel the same way a lot, especially if the person has a very sensitive post but without any questions at the end. I’m never sure if they want support or not. I guess all we can do is our best, and I’m happy you like the tips :)

  2. Nice tips! I think we all at times maybe word things in ways that could be construed as having another meaning. This actually brings up a problem I have been struggling with. I had to cut off ties with one blogger because I was having problems with his comments.

    He would always lead in with an initial comment, which was nice. Then it would turn into attacking me and my blog, all the things he thought I was doing wrong in my life and my blog. His intentions might have been good and I think in his own way he was trying to help me, but it just came across as creepy.

    I think its important to note that here at WordPress there is freedom of speech, but we have to take an awareness when people cross the lines.

    • That does sound creepy! Maybe one of the coolest things about this type of medium is that we can get better at communication. Hopefully if his intention is to actually help people, he can figure out a way that is more useful. Even with freedom of speech, respecting someone’s lines on their blog is pretty necessary, to me at least.

  3. Great idea to write a post about this Jennifer. Perhaps it is under-explored territory. In my experience, commenting on posts is a great way of building communities…you leave a comment, someone comes and visits your blog, they leave a comment etc. You are right to comment with care, and consider how it will affect the other person. Luckily, no-one has left unthoughtful comments on my own blog – they are always either generous or insightful or both. I try and do the same.
    Recently, though I left a comment on a blog about taking anti-depressants. It was a sensitive issue and I tried to be sensitive about the issue. But I was the only commenter who made a point aversive to the rest. I was really careful choosing my words because I didn’t want to offend the person or her readers, but I did want to express a different opinion. But I am not usually controversial.
    xx
    http://heartmama.net

    • I must admit I don’t always make it to every blog that I want to or for all the people that leave me comments, I should try harder! Also, you helped me realize one of the major issues here- tone of voice. If you were to bring up an alternate viewpoint gently with someone in real life, you would have a whole lovely arsenal of techniques and gestures and meaningful glances and whatnot. With writing, we can be careful with our words, like you did, but it can be so much harder (at least for me) to insert an opposing viewpoint and feel like I’m coming across correctly. More and more ways to hone the skills, I suppose :) And I’m sure you did a lovely job of not sounding controversial.

    • I’m so glad you think so! Usually I just think too much. But that works out for blogging, and I try to extrapolate the most useful bits of my over-analyzing so that maybe we can make the most of our moments. So glad that you are finding it useful :)

  4. By reading this, I find you to be a very kind and positive person! You made a post that you regretted but you learned for it, so that’s all that matters now. I am personally relaxed when it comes to giving and reading comments in my blogs because if we put pressure on ourselves then it becomes ‘homework’ to leave a comment. So, a thank you, I enjoyed your post works for me at times. The more relaxed we are, the more fun the interactions. :)

  5. I think you should be honest with your comments and at the same time tactful. You are certainly correct that sometimes it is the way you say things and not what you say. By the way I like your blog. Thanks for the great post. This one was for me because I love getting and giving comment love. :)

    • I’m so glad you like it! And yeah, I think we all love comments. Mistakes might happen sometimes, but in the end, they are learning experiences. I’ll still comment as much as possible :)

  6. Jen thinks too much kind of situations? Ha! That is quite ironically funny. Perhaps you are thinking too much young lady, but then again, if it wasn’t for you thinking too much, then the posts that you articulate would not be quite so interesting or fun to explore.
    As for your ideas on comments…I am kind of ‘deranged’ I guess could be one way to articulate myself in regards to comments. I always have a blank Microsoft word page open in the background when I’m surfing WordPress. Then, I type up my comment, before I edit sentences, spell check several times, re-read – basically, each comment takes me around ten to fifteen minutes to complete, if not more. I then copy and paste and hope for the best.
    However, even though I am trying to be formalised, constructive, sympathetic, honest and complimentary, I often wonder what the interpretation will be.
    This is going off topic, but I do the same with e-mails. I sent an e-mail to my comm. grad. project/prof. prac. tutor about my want not to work in a group. I thought I had been nice, formal and quite easy to understand. My tutor however, well – she said I was pretentious and egotistical; that I obviously thought I was better than the rest of the class, and although she was allowing me to work on my lonesome, she was not doing so to be generous, but because she thought she was doing the rest of the class a favour by not teaming them up with a person such as myself. Put simply – she hates me!
    So, your concerns young lady are not crazy. I believe you are one hundred per cent in the right to be somewhat concerned about comments.
    Very good post topic!

    • I am glad you liked the topic! And yes, my over-thinking does bode well for people that enjoy reading about it :)
      Wow, that is intense about your teacher! And that is exactly on topic. I suppose that even if we write something with lots of thought and consideration, that is still no guarantee that it will be received correctly. With typed words, there is just so much room for misinterpretation!
      Maybe she was projecting and it is her that is egotistical…and perhaps you could talk about the miscommunication in some way, if it is even worth it. Sometimes when those things happen, it is good to have a conscious discussion about the misunderstanding, especially if leaving it unspoken is going to make things increasingly awkward during class. Hope it all works out for the best!

  7. I find that social media in general makes clear communication challenging. There are too many opportunities to submit “off the cuff” remarks, and the lack of context makes even the most well-meaning comments subject to misinterpretation. What is refreshing is your depth of concern for your “blunder.” If only everyone so carefully considered their feedback!

    • I am glad you find that refreshing. It does feel good to get it out there! And you are right- social media in general does make it hard to have clear communication. It’s probably good to remember that if we ever feel offended too- maybe we are misreading a comment or post. It’s just so easy to do! :)

  8. Great post! Maybe we can come up with a “tone-o-meter” that can say something like:
    80% positive with 15% humor and 5% snarky…lol
    It’s too easy to take written words and perceive them in our own way – even if they were meant with the best intentions. Thankfully, the community, in which we chose to build around ourselves are much like we are. It makes it easier to “just be you” and write what you feel in hopes that comment receiver gets where you are coming from :) ~ from one over thinker to another ;)

    *This post is 100% honest :)

  9. As I’m new to blogging, I haven’t yet made too many comments online. So, happily, I’ve avoided that misstep as yet. But I’ve found that, on those occasions when I’ve made a hurtful comment to someone by accident, generally there is some ugly thing within me that either resents or disagrees with their triumph in some way. Even when I appreciate that I can’t know what they’ve gone through, or recognize the courage a particular step required, the stumbling block that is my lack of verbal tact in that moment is symptomatic of my own personal, well, craziness. I think that’s part of what can be so painful about those moments: you didn’t mean to hurt the other person, and you didn’t want to realize why you might not be on board with something that’s obviously great or courageous for them to have done. I know my faith in Freudian slips might not be something other people share, and it’s true that sometimes words just scramble up on you. But I guess, I wonder, do other people ever find that such scrambles reveal anything, well, uglier about themselves?

  10. Synchronicity, Aya! I read this just after making an off-hand remark on some one’s blog. Really.

    Then: After Reading: I went back to write something to clean it up a bit and found that…

    I had skipped an anti-spam filter. My original comment did not appear. And would not. Aya!

    How lucky, me, to have been both inspired and lucky…

    Here are my questions in response: If we practice conscious and compassionate communications on the internet, won’t it make it easier for us to do so in person? And vice versa? What do we think is really happening when we’re commenting on a blog? Is it something energetic? Why?

    • I apologize that I just now saw this! Ah, I think about those questions a bit. I think that for me, learning to be compassionate and present is an always-evolving process, and the more I do it, the more momentum and courage I have to keep doing it. It’s all energetc in a way, is it not? I don’t know if my energy that feeds my fingers as I type this comment is getting to you personally, but it is emanating from me and my dog is happy about that, and when I see someone soon, I will be in a better mood with a more present state of mind than if I had been commenting mindlessly at this moment…so I suppose the good effects just keep a-rollin’ on out from this moment when it’s done with intention and presentness! At least, I think so…so I don’t know what is “really happening” when we comment on a blog, but for me, I do think that what is really happening in each moment is that I am learning how to be more present in future moments, perhaps. How’s that? :)

  11. Comments are so important on many levels! You touched based on some very good points. A joy to read this post. Don’t feel too bad about the mishap comment, you learn by your mistakes (even if they are accidental). The written word can inspirer and bring joy and enlightenment to the reader and blogger but how people write is very subjective. It’s hard to read and know the REAL sense of how they meant their words to be taken. Since I started Blogging I make it now a priority to read other blogs and comment because it’s important for Bloggers to receive feedback from people who read their stuff, it does make them feel validated for their expressed words. Again, great post.

  12. I appreciate all of the comments I receive, mostly because I blog to enjoy the conversations. I tell you something, you tell me something, we perhaps laugh or cry or feel a bit annoyed; in short: we connect. The most important thing to remember when writing a comment is that there is a living person at the other end of your reply – be compassionate or don’t comment.

    -aniko

    • I blog to enjoy conversations as well! It is such an interesting and evolving feeling- this sense that what I write actually gets read! Hah! Who knew?! At first, that really blew my mind. Now, it’s like, how can I really absorb that and become a better writer by understanding my changing place in those conversations..it is such an interesting process!
      Also, sorry for not seeing this comment until now; blast from the past for me because I forgot to check my previous posts for new comments :) I think of your parking garage analogy a lot, just so ya know. These little conversations have real impacts!

  13. Jrnnifer…if I was writing this..I could not have written it as well.As you may know, I don’t waste time or life holding things back or saying things I don’t mean. Your words show clearly, like a Texas hill-country stream…what an amazing and rare person you are. Please keep writing.

  14. This is so well said (and thought through)..indeed it inspires me to read more carefully, to stop for a moment and think, instead of just pressing “like” button and running off to a next post (as tempted as I might be to see as many as could a.s.a.p.) Bravo !

    • Thank you! I really did try with this one. Sometimes I forget to put enough energy into each sentence. I get in a mode too where I read, click, read, click, read, click.
      I almost think that we spend a proportionate amount of time reading a post as the person put into it…regardless of length. But that might be quite untrue..I do wonder sometimes though :) I am very glad you enjoyed it!

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