I subscribe to several voice-over lists. The subject question is actually a current and very active topic on one of them. Many people have answered the question, but I will never be among them. If you haven’t already posted an answer, I hope I can give you some new things to consider before you press the Send button with your reply.
It’s not like these lists are some little private gathering where you can whisper secrets among close friends. Sure, camaraderie exists if you’ve been a list member for a long time, but you don’t really KNOW the other list members. You may have regularly contributed to an e-mail list or forum, but would you know someone from that list if they walked into the room?
Answering or reading such messages is a huge waste of time. If you have some down time, you could be doing any number of productive things to advance your career like calling a client, updating your database, modifying your web site, recording new scratch tracks for practice, learning to apply filters in your editing software, etc. You could be doing things to otherwise improve your life like communicating with family and friends, taking a walk, learning to play a musical instrument, decluttering your office, planning a trip, etc. Of course, you could just sit and be for a few minutes, reveling in the quiet, doing absolutely nothing other than enjoying being alive, perhaps meditating and visualizing the kind of life you want for yourself!
In addition to the time-wasting nature of the topic, you never know who might read your words later and form an opinion about you. Would you answer this question if you knew that your clients or potential clients were reading your messages? How about if your parents or your significant other were to find your post? Would they be hurt or shocked by your response to something that you thought was just silly banter? Any of these people could read what you write on-line because your words live on into perpetuity!
I wrote in a recent post
Nothing is more powerful on this planet
than the words that you think and speak.
This concept was driven home to me in the small yet powerful book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. Rather than paraphrasing the beautiful wisdom of the book, I’ll quote from the cover:
Be Impeccable With Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
Don’t Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
The Four Agreements may sound simple, but they are difficult to implement on a daily basis. Just realizing the power of your words is a life-changing step! When I first started in voice-over, I would laugh and say I would do any job where the check would clear. Now, I decline to perform jobs when I don’t like the words that would be coming out of my mouth. They may be someone else’s words, but I would be the one saying them. If I’m using the power of the word against someone else or against my own beliefs and values, then I won’t take the job.
Since I don’t want to use the power of the word against myself, I don’t want say things that might hurt my professional reputation in others’ eyes….like answering a question in a public forum about how I’m dressed when I perform my job. If someone wants to know how how I look when I work in my studio, they can see the picture of my stunning soundproof studio on my web site.
Answer the question, if you feel so inclined. However, I won’t interested in the answer.