Leading Through Intimidation


Recently I posted a late night plea for help in a tech support forum I belong to on a popular, professional social network. Although a member of that group for years, it was my first support request. I’m not going to leave a link into the actual post but this is a rather popular exchange for anything business related:

Michelle Held commented on a discussion in Joomla* Helpdesk.
Michelle: Does anyone know of a theme that has an email sign-up box IN a slider? maybe 60/40 split eg slider at top of home page left, and email sign-up on the right side – (NOT in the sidebar)?? THANKS!
Like Comment (2) 13h ago

In the morning, I read the response:

Angry Group Moderator* (AGM)
AGM: With all due respect Michelle, but with questions like these won’t get you far in this group.

  • a. typically a slider should be plugin territory
  • b. would it be so hard to add content to a slider
  • c. have you actually used Google to find such sliders?

13h ago

Did you choke on your coffee like I did? This is the actual transcript. The post came from the group owner. I checked the title of the group I posted in to be sure I did not post in one of my nonprofit or women’s groups. I scrolled down a bit to look at what the other group members typically post. I definitely was in the right group, or so I thought.

I wrote and erased at least two clever replies before posting this:

Michelle Held: So sorry to burden you. The answers are:

  • a. Yes I know, that’s why I’m asking
  • b. For me, yes
  • c. Actually lately I prefer Bing but ‘yes’ again My first question but hey thanks anyhow guess this group is not for me

7h ago

The thought of being afraid to ask a question is foreign to me. I read about it all the time, but don’t share the emotion. Deciding not to let this ruin my day, I quit the group and headed off to the gym. Two sweaty hours later, still haunted by the feeling that I wrote something wrong, I pick up my cellphone and find this text message from a friend:

“Hahaha I just saw your “exchange” on XXXX*!!!! that guy sounds EXACTLY like the jack*ss I used to deal with in my vtn2* group!!!!”

A few friends have taken to Facebook as well, leaving snotty comments on my wall and signing their names as Mr. AGM.

Mean people suck!
What did he mean by “with questions like these won’t get you far in this group?” I won’t go far? This is just an informal, free support forum a group of strangers subscribe to.

This callous forum moderator with his low emotional intelligence is probably not equipped to manage a group, at least not today. Did he even understand the sarcasm of the response? It is doubtful. The forum members cannot possible feel inspired or confortable after reading his response. This group leader created a culture of disrespect and intimidation by responding so harshly.

Kevin Surace, Inc. Magazine’s 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year speaks about disruptive innovation in Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly. Kevin said it best, “I don’t know if it has a name, but honestly, it’s the fear of introducing an idea and being ridiculed, laughed at, and belittled. If you’re willing to subject yourself to that experience, and if you survive it, then it becomes the fear of failure and the fear of being wrong.”

*Names are changed


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