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Dousing or Fanning the Flames
By Wendy Russell -- July 23, 2003
Owning and or managing an awards program have its definite benefits and can be very rewarding experience. Conversely, it also has its darker and less desirable moments as well. What I am referring to is of course those true to form “ Flame letters” we all get from unhappy and or dissatisfied applicants. If you have never experienced it, consider yourself very fortunate. However, do not be reassured to thinking it will never happen to you, it will. I can picture many nodding heads as they read this article.

I have a difficult time understanding why this behavior is necessary in the first place. If someone applies to your award program, they are asking for your opinion through the evaluation process. Through this process we learn to improve and grow as webmasters.

Wendy Russell


If the evaluation results are not what is anticipated by the applicant, and disappointment results then the anger flows like a raging river. If they are not prepared to accept the results, why apply in the first place?

So how does one deal with this eventuality? Do you react and fan the flames, or do you douse the flames and render them pointless? My preference is the latter of the two choices.

It is of course human nature to become hurt and disappointed by such types of negative correspondence. We are only human and have feelings too. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the sender is counting on. The aim of the flame letter is to accomplish just that, to somehow discredit or demean the awards master or the awards program. If you react and fan those flames you allow this to occur, and the sender has succeeded in what they intended to do. Do not allow this to happen at all costs.

As hard as we have tried to be as courteous and pleasant in our correspondences with applicants, sometimes that is not even enough. If someone is aiming to be hurtful towards you, they will. Somehow, this makes them feel better and justified by sending you their views, no matter how misguided. The act of e-mailing someone you’ve never met, behind a monitor and keyboard half a world away, gives the sender a sense of ‘anything goes’ type of attitude. I highly doubt that if this correspondence was being conducted on a one-to-one basis, face-to-face, the bold nature of the rudeness would be placed at bay.

So what should you do? Let it go, and consider the source and be satisfied that you did not lower yourself to that level of questionable behavior. It is very hard to do, depending on the degree on the rudeness of the flame letter. A very good and wise friend once told me,” nothing you can say or do will change their thinking, so let it go”. The act of cordial and diplomatic replies only prolongs the negative experience further. It is just not worth wasting your time or energy on an issue that has no chance at reaching a meeting of the minds.

Therefore, the next time one of those “ flame letters” cross your desk, douse the flames by ignoring it. Feel good about placing it where it deserves to be in the ‘recycle bin”. Then press the delete button with a smile on your face knowing that you are a better net citizen for it.

Copyright 2003
All Rights Reserved
Wendy Russell

About the Author
Wendy is the co-owner and co-webmaster of Casey’s Celtic Charm and awards program, which is rated AS! 5.0 and is a WTA with Superb Website Awards. A member of CEM/CEMA, Apex and AEC Global.

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