Honey or Vinegar?

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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?

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    The Conversation

  1. diane burke says:

    Lots to think about in this blog. Unfortunately, I am also guilty of wearing some of those less favorable labels, usually out of ignorance rather than meanness but still…LOL. I certainly hope I can make a more conscious effort to be Miss Gracious. I like your description of her!!

  2. Hi Connie – good blog!
    I, too, want to grow up to be Gracious Greta, though having recently come from a huge writer’s conference I’m afraid I miught be dubbed – Constance Cringeworthy!

    I try not to put my foot in my mouth, but somehow it always seems to wind up there. I’m not visious or pushy or oblivous, but I still manage to say something wrong at the right time. sigh.

    I’ll keep working on it1 Hope to meet you at a conference sometime. 🙂

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Lynne, You too?! Oiy! But we keep trying to be gracious, don’t we?? We’ll get there yet!

      I so hope we get to connect in person sometime! We’d have a blast!

  3. Maddy says:

    I’m not at the baiting stage yet – I hope it doesn’t come in that form – I’m more finding my feet and squeezing writing into my busy day [although I expect everyone else is doing much the same]

    • Connie Mann says:

      Absolutely, Maddy. We’re all trying to get our creative work done in the midst of our crazy-busy lives.

      And hopefully trying to be publicly gracious while we do it. 🙂

      Hope you have a wonderfully productive day!

  4. Connie, I still haven’t found a way to attract readers to my books. I mostly tweet announcements when I have something new out or get a great review, or I just tweet a line from one of my books to hopefully tantalize someone into taking a longer look. I’m not on Facebook, but do have a blog that I try to post something to at least three days a week. My history blogs seem to be the most popular. I keep my website updated and see an upswing in visitors there when I leave comments on others’ blogs. Don’t really know what else I can do aside from being helpful to other struggling writers on my loops and congratulating their achievements.

    I try to spend most of my time offline writing new stuff, editing existing projects and then submitting. But I have to admit, there are days when I really don’t feel like getting online at all. It can overwhelm me and kill my urge to work on my latest project.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Susan, I know just what you mean about getting overwhelmed! Oh, I’ve been there. But it sounds like you have a solid plan going.

      I have to remind myself not to get sidetracked. We have to keep writing; otherwise, we don’t have a product!

      Hope you have a wonderfully productive day!

  5. Grace Kone says:

    Connie, you’ve hit the nail on the head, except maybe for Shy Sister, which has been me at most conventions. I’m the one who hangs back, gliding through the yak-yak, until somebody notices my GH finalist ribbon or my RITA finalist ribbon and lets out a squeal. But you’ve certainly hit the nail on the head. Your characterizations are right on. I like to think I’ve been Gracious Greta, but “Ghostly Grace” is probably more apt.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Thanks so much, Grace! Of course, there have been times I’d have been much better off if I’d been “Ghostly Grace” instead of “Constance Cringeworthy,” as Lynne said! I have to fight both extremes on a regular basis! 🙂

      And I’ve never known you to be anything but Gracious Greta!

  6. Leslie Santamaria says:

    I agree with Diane: lots to think about in this post! Like Grace, I’ve mostly been Shy Sister, observing and trying to figure out how to be at conferences and online. I don’t want to be fake, of course, just considerate of others and understanding what’s acceptable in each arena. Sometimes, though, in trying to strike the right balance between grace and confidence, I don’t do anything! That’s when a solid, gracious push from a close friend helps. 🙂

    • Connie Mann says:

      That balance thing is so tricky, isn’t it? Sometimes I feel like a cartoon character flailing around on a tightrope, forever correcting and overcorrecting in trying to keep my balance! I think the fact that we’re conscious of all this and trying to do it right, is a huge step.

      And conferences are always better when there’s a friend nearby! 🙂

  7. What a great post. I had to chuckle at your descriptions and several examples came to mind. And then I had to cringe, because I’m sure I’ve been guilty of all of the above at some point or another…possibly more than once.

    From now on, I’ll try to stick with the honey!

  8. Katherine says:

    I am very much the Shy Sister type (thanks, Grace, for the term. 😮 ) mostly because I’m shy by nature, don’t like large crowds, and don’t want to do or say something that might haunt me later.

    I have a Pushy Polly on my Facebook friends list that has gotten so bad, that I don’t even read her posts anymore. I just scroll right past them as soon as I see her name. I try to post things that are both writing and everyday related, because I don’t want people to groan when they see a post from me.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Katherine–I think there are lots of Shy Sisters amongst writers, so you’re in good company. The challenge is not to let that keep you from making contacts and meeting some awesome people!

      I commend your gracious handling of your own Pushy Polly. 🙂 None of us want to inspire groans.

  9. Great post Connie! Thanks for the insight! 🙂

  10. Lilly Gayle says:

    Fantastic post. Please forward this to the Democratic AND Republican parties. For once in my life, I’d like to know what a politician thinks, believes, and is committed to, NOT what he claims the competition thinks, believes and lacks commitment to.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Lilly, a very good idea. I would happily forward it, if I thought it would make a bit of difference. 🙂 Sadly, I don’t think it would.

      Thanks so much for taking time to stop by!
      Happy Writing

  11. Connie,
    Great characterizations, and a very inspiring website and blog. If that ‘large writer’s conference” you’ll be attending in September happens to be held at the DFW Hyatt under the auspices of ACFW, I hope you’ll look for me and identify yourself.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Dr. Mabry, thanks so much for stopping by my home on the web. I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit! Yes, ACFW is where I’ll be and I’ll look forward to meeting you!

  12. Connie,
    I so enjoy your posts. I always leave your site feeling as though we’ve had a good sit-down chat. You have so nailed these character types! The publishing industry has changed so much, forcing introverted writers to get out there, and so many of us aren’t handling things as well as we should. Overcompensating, maybe?

    • Connie Mann says:

      Lynnette, I think you may be right about the overcompensating! Hadn’t really thought about that. This PR stuff is hard, isn’t it?

      It means so much that you leave my site feeling like we’ve had a nice chat, since that is exactly what I’m hoping people feel after they stop by. Thank you so much.

  13. Lisa Rayns says:

    Great thoughts on this and I appreciate you sharing. I haven’t been to a writing conference yet but I’m hope I’m the Greta when i do. I’ll keep this post in mind!

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Lisa–so glad you enjoyed the post! Conferences are always wonderful–but can also be wonderfully intimidating. Glad I’ve given you a few tips to make it easier. Here’s hoping you get to attend one soon!

  14. Hi Connie,

    Wonderful blog, and you certainly have hit the nail on the head. I guess I see myself as a “modest violet,” type. I would hate to be seen as a pushy or self-centred like a few authors that I know. I have to say most authors are great though, very generous and supportive of each other.



    • Connie Mann says:

      Oh, I agree, Margaret. The majority of the authors I’ve met over the years have been incredibly gracious and supportive. It’s those few “others” I’ve learned to be wary of. 🙂

      I like the “modest violet” image. Quiet, but not timid. We all have our own personalities, and when we’re smart, we play to our strengths and use them to encourage others. So glad you enjoyed the post!