I’ve been involved in community moderation and management for over 10 years. Recently I realized that I have evolved as an individual because of it. Now, everyone grows and changes as the years go by, but I think my time in online communities has had a unique impact on my personality.
The duties of an online community manager vary by company, community and available resources. However, each position requires diplomacy and empathy.
Daniel Pink says, “Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.” Empathy is why community managers are important and what the practice of which has changed me so much.
When I’m out driving, I rarely get angry at other drivers and when I do, it goes away quickly. When I listen to a friend complain about a situation, I can so easily imagine the other person’s point of view. More importantly, I have learned when to simply listen and when it’s time to offer an opinion.
When I talk to people, I find myself using the same type of language as I use when I’m talking to a member. I offer praise. I sandwich anything negative between two positives. This all comes naturally to me now. I don’t think I could stop feeling and behaving this way if I tried.
As I said, people are constantly growing and evolving. What I find interesting is that I can point to the specific role of community manager and see a direct causation to my level of empathy.