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Business vs. Personal in a community forum

By Andrew Pollack on 08/22/2004 at 09:29 AM EDT

Cultures are very different, often in subtle ways. What happens in a public or semi-public forum with a very mixed culture but enough long term bonds to also feel somewhat familial?

In my family, as in many of yours, argument is the norm. Sometimes loud argument. Culturally it is the way ideas are tested. We'd have arguments about things we agreed on, swapping sides to play devils advocate. Of course, that's now how we thought about it -- to us, we were arguing. We never took those kinds of arguments personally though. My wife's family, however, also like many others of you, don't do that. To them, any disagreement that's "important enough to bring up" is a pretty big deal. Argument of any kind sends them all running for neutral corners. We once came home from weekend there with Barb very upset about how everyone was fighting. I looked at her and said "What? I didn't see any fighting at all!"

I've gotten a lot of feedback virtually overnight about a very strongly worded flame I dropped in the Lotus Business Partner's Forum yesterday. Of course, since the messages are to me, they've been in general agreement with me -- not that I assume its representative since people who disagree aren't writing messages of support -- but what really surprises me is how many people assume there's a personal angle to it as well. There's not. For those reading this who are not partners, the flame was directed to Ed as a response to something he wrote and focuses (I think) on specific details which related to business decisions at IBM which he is defending. Why would anyone assume this means that either I don't like Ed, or that Ed will "hate me now" or some other such nonsense? Folks, this is not 6th grade. A disagreement -- even a very loud one -- does not indicate some kind of social structure. For the record, I think Ed's a good guy who does his job quite well. From a BUSINESS perspective if I'm using what he says as part of my analysis of the market I take into account that what he says and what he believes (about technology) are tied to his role at IBM. That doesn't make it wrong, its bias. If he claimed no bias, I'd take issue --but he doesn't. Well, I'm biased too. Whoopee. We need MORE bias, not less bias on the part of the IBM people who face the media. We need strong, loud, people making those pointed statements about the products and competitive differences -- for years, Ed was the only one doing that. Agreement is not respect, and disagreement is not personal.

There are  - loading -  comments....

I didn't see a personal attackBy Carl on 08/23/2004 at 11:23 AM EDT
I think if people that it that way they are mistaken. Sometimes a good fight
is what everyone needs, there are often many people who sit quietly by until
someone else speaks up, you're the one that spoke up.
My own thoughts on this are...By Christopher Byrne on 08/26/2004 at 11:10 AM EDT
See my semi-related blog entry:

"Blogging and Business Reputation/Brand Name Protection"

I am surprised you got flamed from the BP Forum, but as I have yet to get
access to it (I do not have a server I can cross-certify, but if another
partner would be willing to let me cross-crtify with them so I can get access,

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