A few weeks back I was at the Social Age Safari learning about all things social, learning, change and leadership. In one of the breakout sessions, there was a call to talk about blogging, how do people start, what should they write about, that kind of thing.
What got me is the perception that in writing thoughts through the medium of blogs could attract a backlash of responses. You know, people write something, a troll reads it and attacks them online for it. That kind of thing.
I mean, we’re talking about HR. Or L&D. Or Recruitment. You know, fairly unimportant and innocuous topics for most people in their day to day lives. In the main, people interact with these departments/teams when they have to. Beyond that, no one really cares about what’s happening in those teams. And most people certainly don’t care all that much what professionals in those spaces are talking about.
But social media invites a different set of thinking. Suddenly, once you hit that publish button, your writing is out there for the world to read, to scrutinise, to criticise. Also it’s out there to be praised, congratulated, and appreciated. What I’ve discovered over my time of blogging is that very little meets with anything close to trolling. At worst, I get personally challenged on a topic I might write. More regularly, people appreciate and support my writing. (I know this to be true of others, so I’m not talking about one man’s view of the world.)
Nearly everything I read in the HR space is falls in the safe space of ‘innocuous’. There is very little that is written that is truly contentious or challenging to people’s belief systems. We’re not writing about religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender biases, or anything which is likely to cause inordinate ire and trolling. In fact, most of what we write about is how to improve workplace practices in a number of ways. That’s always good and useful, and is hardly ever offensive.
In fact, there are so few controversial writers in the HR space that I can count them on two fingers.
I am known to sometimes write and be contentious. That’s not because I’m talking about something controversial, it’s because I choose to write about some topics in ways that is designed to provoke a reaction. I mean seriously, when I’m writing about 70:20:10 or modern workplace learning and causing a reaction from people, it’s definitely not about the topic.
So, this is to say, if you fancy writing, do it. Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you. You’re probably gonna write about leadership, HR practise, L&D theory and practise, or something related.
That’s such safe territory that I would willingly let my children read most of what I read about in this space. It is so innocuous that I would be happy for HR blogs to be posted on the walls of my children’s rooms just so they are exposed to writing. Most of what we write about is so niche and on topic that unless you work in the HR space, no one really gives a shit. (I’ve been blogging for about 7 years now, and I don’t think my wife has ever read one of my blog posts – I mean, I can’t express just how uninteresting it is to write in this space unless you’re a professional in this space.)
Which does present a challenge in other ways to the writing that we do. People like Julie Drybrough write with such heart that I get swept up in her words and poetic style. People like Doug Shaw write about things in such open and accessible ways that I can only appreciate him and what he does. People like David Goddin write about things which cut to the heart of the matter. People like David D’Souza write about pop culture and links to HR and I often laugh at what he writes. People like Joey Stephenson write about their reflections and I’m moved to think with her and gain better understanding of who she is as a person. People like Gemma Reucroft write about making the world of work better and not being a slave to the system. That’s where writing is special and lifts your thinking, lifts your attitude and can be supportive to you as a person.