“Peer Review” Your Life

A friend of mine got into a little hot water recently.

Because it’s a bit embarrassing, I won’t use his real name. I’ll refer to him as Lance.

Lance is currently in the process of learning how to become a day trader. One of the ways he learns is through trading discussion groups using Skype (the popular Internet communication tool). These discussion groups are hosted by an experienced day trader.

Last week he was taking part in a session led by a person whose skills and style of delivery he’s less than enthused about to say the least.

He typed up a note in Skype to send to one of his fellow group mates. In it, he called the group leader an unflattering term (everybody has one) and mused that he wondered why people even bother to listen to him.

When he sent the note, the fan was instantly covered so to speak.

Because instead of sending a private message to his friend, by mistake, he sent it out to everyone in the trading group – including the guy running the room.

After the fireworks stopped, Lance was informed that he’s banned from life from that particular trading discussion room.

Which is disappointing for Lance, not because he’ll miss the leader of course, but because he’s grown fond of some of the other people in the group. Some of whom are mad at him for taking pots shots at the group leader. (A few people in the group however think he’s a hero.)

Lance feels terrible about the whole situation.

“Skype can really get you in trouble” he said.

Well, yes it can.

But, of course, he was really just deflecting the blame.

He should never have typed up the note in the first place. Because, when you think of it, there’s really nothing good that comes out of talking bad about someone behind their back. Even if you’re 100% right.

Plus what often happens is your words come back and bite you in the behind down the road (despite swearing the person you originally told to secrecy).

It reminds me a bit of the copywriting peer review process. Peer reviews work and are beneficial because no negative comments are allowed. You can only suggest ways to make the copy better. No feelings are hurt and the person whose copy was the focus of the peer review usually always comes away with some pretty sound copy improvement ideas.

When you think of it, a peer review is a good model for life. Focus on the positive. Build people up instead of tearing them down.

If it’s not something you’d say to someone’s face, don’t say it to someone else’s face.

If you follow that simple rule, at the end of the day you’ll never have to explain, defend, apologize for or face the consequences of your words.

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Published: May 27, 2009

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