I have been tempted lately to avoid Facebook, the mailbox, the television and every single news outlet. Because every time I dare take a peek, I am bombarded by meanness and a viciousness that makes me feel physically attacked. Do any of the folks promoting such ugliness really think this will attract people to their cause?

Remember the old saying: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”? I think that applies not only to politicians, but to anyone promoting a person, cause or product.

In short, it means us. You and me. Whether we do it consciously or not, what we say—and how we say it—leaves an impression in people’s minds. Every time we step into the public arena, through email, Facebook, blogs, etc., people are watching us. Does what they see and hear attract them like honey? Or do we leave a nasty, vinegar-y taste in their mouths?

I am getting ready to attend a large writer’s conference next month, so I’ve been thinking a lot about making the right impression. I want to be honest and gracious, and avoid being one of “those” people. You know the ones.

See if any of these ladies look familiar.

Pushy Polly has all the best intentions, but she’s desperate to get her message across, so she pushes, pushes, pushes. Her message has only one verse: “Buy my product,” and she trumpets it everywhere, in person, on loops, Facebook, Twitter, and every possible social media outlet. After a while, you feel hounded and avoid her whenever you see her coming.

Nasty Nancy has been around the block a few times and the newness has worn off. Apparently her nice wore off, too. She’s discouraged and disgusted with the whole process and her comments are nasty, jealous and ugly. She tears down her competition to make herself look good. Sadly, that makes people run in the opposite direction.

Oblivious Olivia is super-excited about her project and is sure everyone feels the exact same way. Her mouth runneth over and she can’t stop talking. You have to admire her sparkling optimism, but she’s forgotten that the world doesn’t revolve around her and her project. Other people’s time constraints and other obligations never cross her mind in her quest to get help for her cause.

I cringed when I wrote some of this, because I’ve been each of these ladies at one time or another. I’ve said the wrong thing, done the wrong thing and made an impression the exact opposite of what I intended. I can’t undo or unsay those wrong things, but I can be careful in future.

Lastly, there’s Gracious Greta. She’s savvy and smart, but she hasn’t lost sight of the big picture. She’s appreciative of any help she gets from fellow travelers and is always willing to return the favor. She is gracious in her dealings with others and saves her negativity for the privacy of her own home. She’s who I want to be when I grow up.

Treating people as you want to be treated is not just a great way to live; I think it’s a wise marketing plan, too.

So, what kind of bait are you using?