Blogging is still the easiest, lowest cost, way to build a business, establish a client base, become an influencer, or just to use a voice that matters.
It’s almost free marketing that is always on, always distributed, and always accessible.
There are great ADR professionals such as Cinnie Noble, Tammy Lenski, Victoria Pynchon and a few other high profile ADR practitioners, capitalizing on their blogging efforts. But for many ADR professionals, other than the contributors at Mediate.com (and here at ADRTimes.com), blogging is still viewed as a “one-off, one-time” thing.
There are many objections to blogging from the peace builder, but three are primary:
- I don’t have time to blog.
- I don’t know what to blog about.
- I’m not a writer.
Let’s break those down:
I don’t have time to blog: ADR professionals lead busy lives. They mediate, negotiate and arbitrate complex issues that place psychological and emotional strain on them. Then, they return to homes where they may be confronted by more conflict (Ever hear the joke about the mediator who mediated their own divorce proceeding? I have. It’s depressing.) And, peace building professionals are exposed to more conflicts in social media feeds and from popular culture.
Then, there are children, partners, and responsibilities. By the time the end of the day comes, they are ready to do what their clients do: Go to bed and go to sleep. Then they get up and repeat it.
Who has time to blog?
Well, I’m writing this article in between just having fed my four-year old daughter and working on a client project. What I have found is that there are spaces in the day where thoughts worth blogging about can come flooding in. And, when we sit down at our seats in front of the computer, time becomes available, in spite of distractions, children, clients and other responsibilities.
I don’t know what to blog about: There is so much conflict in the world, at both an organizational and individual level, that I am often surprised by how many peace builders believe this. Peace builders witness disputes in line at their favorite coffee shop in the morning. Disputes occur at local school board meetings, attended the night before. There are disputes in our social media feeds, or even in the newspaper.
When I started blogging regularly, I worried about filling digital space with something meaningful. Then I had a revelation: The number of people consuming content in a digital space will always outweigh the number of people creating content in digital space.
The other piece to consider in this, is a thought that many peace builders have that goes “I don’t have anything to say (or write) so what could I possibly write about?” The fact of the matter is, we need more people who are involved in building peace to have the courage to lay out an argument, stake a claim to a position of truth, and then defend it vigorously and assertively. Courage has always been in short supply in the digital space (see the proliferation of Buzzfeed-like listicles and “Top 25” posts) and hiding away from the consequences of taking a position on topics such as neutrality, client-self-determination, or even the area of deep listening, does not negate the overwhelming need for online wisdom. The fact of the matter is, wisdom is also in short supply in a world where every piece of knowledge is a Google search away. We need more peace builder’s wisdom in the online space and the best place to get that wisdom across is through online, long-form, writing.
I’m not a writer: Many people stop writing regularly about the same time they put college (or high school) in the rearview mirror. Writing is hard, but for the peace builder, writing is the best way to explore and develop thoughts about process, procedure and practice and to grow the field. We need more writing, not less.
And, putting together a sentence or two is really all that it takes to begin. Once that happens, the real struggle becomes how to improve writing, rather than how to start.
One last point on all of this: Many peace builders want to begin writing, but fear that when they are vulnerable in the online space; when they take a position, raise their hand and say “this is me, this is what I’m making,” that there will be pushback from trolls, baiters, scammers, critics, and other bad actors (or actors with mixed motives) online. The thing to remember is that, at a practical level, the bad actors, spammers, and trolls are merely seeking negative attention and—even more perniciously—are seeking to place their shame on the person taking a stand.
At a practical level, the way around this for the peace builder to not accept comments on their blog. Or, to moderate them, or even to not read them. But, peace builders should never allow the bad actor to steal their voice, out of their own mouth, before it has even been used.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org