You may remember a while ago I wrote a post on getting started in wedding blogging! Today, given that the last few debate posts I’ve written have caused a bit of a stir, I thought I’d talk about controversy – how to handle it when people disagree with you (how very dare they – jokes) and how to cause a stir without being contrived!
Before I get yelled at *ducks* let me preface this post by saying I’m not deliberately controversial. When I sit down to write an article, I don’t really think “will this get a big reaction?” My most controversial posts seem to come from the topics that I’m most genuinely upset or fired up about and usually when I’m writing them I tend to lose my “balanced perspective ethos.” Which I’m starting to think might be a good thing. But despite lots of people disagreeing with me, it tends to create a great debate – but to host a good debate you really have to know how to handle yourself and how to take criticism constructively! So without further ado…
How to be controversial without losing credibility
Don’t be contrived – only write about something you care about
As I said, when I write an opinion piece, it’s just that – a genuine opinion piece. I don’t sit there thinking of potentially provocative topics – in fact (and I was just discussing this with another blogger) it’s often the pieces I write that I think aren’t that bad or controversial that prove to generate the biggest debate!
Don’t be offensive
By all means be opinionated, have fun with your debate posts, but don’t be discriminatory, hateful or horrible in any way! Not that any of my lovely readers would! Remember that awful, insensitive and hurtful rant in Marie Clare US about overweight people? *Disclaimer – I’m linking to this to show you what not to do and how badly it can go wrong if those boundaries are pushed. BIG trigger warning with eating disorders etc. please don’t read if it’s likely to trigger or upset you – I in no way condone the content of this article. Just awful. If your opinions are so far from the boundaries of what’s considered acceptable, keep them to yourself or risk ruining your career.
Own your opinion
Whenever I write something, I check that I’m being clear that the opinion stated is my own, and that I’m not stating it as fact. It’s about being mature enough to know there’s no such thing as “right and wrong” and that my opinion, while right for me, isn’t necessarily going to be shared by everyone.
I like to play devil’s advocate within my posts, even when I have a very strong conclusion, because it helps people formulate their thoughts to disagree with me. It’s also good to admit that you’re human – if something you feel is irrational, then say it! Don’t pretend your point of view is flawless if it isn’t – if I’m irrationally upset about something I say so – it’s much more real.
Respect the opinions of others
Following on from owning the views as your own, always invite people to comment. And realise that when you invite people to comment, you’re inviting them to debate and disagree. Feel free to counter their points, feel free to agree with some of them, but always, always be polite and courteous about it. Don’t ever get personal, don’t get too defensive, keep the tone light and friendly and balance your argument so that you’re acknowledging at least the parts of their reply that you agree with.
If you feel so strongly about the issue you’re addressing that you can’t cope with alternative viewpoints, then for your own sake it’s best not to put it out there as it will only upset you. Take all constructive criticism as it’s meant, laugh off the sillier comments and treat it as a professional thing, not a personal one.
Feel free to delete hateful comments
It’s one thing to disagree, it’s quite another to swear, be aggressive and resort to personal attacks. If you feel uncomfortable with the way somebody’s spoken to you, it’s your blog and you don’t have to take abuse. Just delete it. Having said that, don’t just delete comments because someone countered your point too well, you’ll quickly lose followers!
Don’t name people
A few weeks ago I had terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE service from a wedding industry supplier. I won’t go into details but I was so enraged with the way they treated me and the way they treated brides according to a few other sources, that I was sorely tempted to name and shame. Not as an act of petty revenge but out of a genuine concern that brides might book these people and have their big day ruined.
I didn’t do it in the end because almost all my industry friends advised against it – and they were right. Naming and shaming, even with a right of reply, can get really ugly, especially if they have a bigger budget for lawsuits than you – and it can also look petty even with the best intentions in the world. Controversy is great but don’t get yourself in trouble!
Reply, reply, reply!
Keep the debate going – it’s great fun and if it helps someone work out their own wedding dilemma then what’s the harm?