An industry post – on handling success with grace

I don’t want this to be a rant – this is generally a positive and happy place. So I think I’ll make it more constructive – and also preface this by saying I’m sure I’ve been guilty of a few of the points I’m going to list here. It’s just that lately I’ve become so aware of the value of good manners. I’d like to preface this by saying this post is a general observational post about human nature. You could pretty much apply this to life and it’s not about anyone, inspired by anyone in particular or written to put anyone down – and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

We work in a really fan-dabby-dozy industry. I love the wedding lot because their common aim is to celebrate love. And that’s pretty damn awesome if you ask me. This is the first job, however, where I’ve had to deal with a lot of different people on a day-to-day basis. I think it’s been immensely character building as I’ve had to learn how to internalise and respond to all sorts of characters. I’ve never been a particularly sociable person (for those who’ve met me that may seem like a contradiction but honestly I find people quite intimidating) so this has been so valuable for me. It’s grown me a much thicker skin, it’s made me more aware of my own behaviour and it’s made me want to be a nicer person.

Sometimes, in the professional world, there’s a basic lack of manners that never ceases to rattle me. So instead of having a big rant about everything that’s annoyed me… ever… I decided to list a few basic principles that I’m going to do my darndest (yup) to live by. Because I’ve decided that my new goal in life is to continue to grow into a person who lives with their heart – and to do that you need to check your actions as much as your intentions (I’d also like to thank Kat from Rockn’Roll Bride for validating some of this stuff in her recent school of rock, it made me a lot more confident about how I feel about all of this).

Handling success with grace

It’s important to treat everyone as an equal. It can be the most disheartening and demoralising feeling in the world when you meet someone you admire and it becomes evident that they’re assessing how important you are in comparison to them. I’m not even going to get into why it’s self serving to be nice to people on the way up because I don’t think that’s the issue here. The issue is that once you start to think you’re above other human beings you may have started to lose touch with yourself. No matter how successful your business is, at the end of the day we all feel, poo, love, laugh, cry and die. So if you catch yourself starting to think of people as commodities instead of companions on this crazy journey we call life, then maybe it’s time to think again.

The circumstances under which it’s OK to ignore someone are very, very rare. Unless someone is being abusive, unnerving or threatening, I think it’s important to at least try to find time to reply to people who’ve approached you. I know I’m guilty of forgetting to get back to people. There’s only one of me and I find it hard to remember everything all the time, no matter how many lists I make. But if someone chases me up, I’m always apologetic and I always make sure to prioritise them. I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt completely ignored and it’s an awful feeling, especially when you’ve sent a follow-up email only to be met with silence.

Sometimes we see a red mist. We’ve all been guilty of it – writing something in anger that we later come to regret. I’d say I see a passive aggressive “someone is really annoying me” tweet on a daily basis. Personally I’ve done my level best to avoid them. I’ve written them before in moments of ill-judged anger and it’s never made me feel any better. And not only does the person you’re talking about almost always know it’s about them and feel horrible but pretty much everyone in your timeline will wonder if they’re the offending person too. It’s also not great to associate negativity with your business as it tends to lead to people avoiding you for fear of offending or upsetting you. Similarly, the one time I’ve blogged something negative (even anonymously) about someone who’d upset me at the time, it was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made so far. It led to a lot more anxiety and I believe that negativity breeds negativity. A blog post isn’t as transient as you might think and taking your personal vendettas out on a blog can come across as petty. By all means share what you like of your personal life but make sure it’s constructive and helpful to others and not a rant.

Check your reasons for complaining about something. So someone’s written something you don’t like online. Do you not like it because you disagree with it? Because their style annoys you? Or have they done something truly offensive? If it’s the latter, then by all means challenge it politely and directly, but imagine pouring your heart and soul into writing a post, making a product, only to have it mocked online. I’m all for free speech but I think we’re all in danger of becoming bullies when we have a computer to hide behind, even when we would never dream of hurting someone else’s feelings in reality. Try to remind yourself every day that behind the screen is another real human being who would be more affected by your comments than you realise. I always try to live by the motto: “don’t like it, don’t read it” as I think it’s unhealthy to focus too much on things that wind me up.

Thank people when they help you. I realise in the world of Twitter it can be really hard to keep up with everyone who’s retweeted you – and sometimes comments slip under the radar when they really deserved an acknowledgement. We’re only human after all. But if someone does you a really big favour, say thank you. A lovely friend of mine in the blogging world, for example, recently sent me a really wonderful email which did a lot to change a situation I was in. Making sure I thank her properly has been a top priority because it means a lot to me when people go out of their way to help me like that. Similarly, another blogging friend sent me a lovely thank you note for her invitation to Under the Vintage Veil’s first birthday party. I’m not saying you need to write hand-written notes or even go above and beyond (although they are lovely to receive) but just acknowledging your gratitude can really make someone’s day.

Success can be a daunting thing. It’s like a drug and it can easily change your perception of yourself and others. But try to remember that everyone is a human being and deserves equal respect. Lots of our communication is online, which I guess means that a lot is lost in translation and that it’s easier to dish out our opinions or ignore someone who’s talking  to you. Try to treat others how you’d like to be treated. It’s a cliché but it’s so true and worth living by.

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