On a daily basis one of my most important job functions is to educate others.

Recently I’ve observed less than encouraging responses when non-interactive people share a link, idea or something they thought was new. It doesn’t happen on a regular basis, but it’s important to note that the tone in an e-mail response or shortness in a meeting could be perceived the wrong way.

I always encourage team members and my peers to share their opinion, but I noted today that we should take extra care in our replies. If someone mistakes our tone as something negative they might be reluctant to speak up in the future. It’s  important to cultivate an environment of sharing and to do so we might need to think more before hitting reply.

I’ve been on the opposite side of the equation where I’ve shared something new with a team. Just this week I felt like I was the victim of a smack down after sharing a new content delivery network. While those who responded had good intentions, their response evoked a negative response from me because of their tone and position. Obviously that is not what you want people to feel.

Education is very much a part of our jobs, and will continue to be in the future. Keeping that in mind will continue to encourage others to share things with us, listen to our opinions in the future, and feel like they are part of the growing interactive world and not on the outside looking in.

I’m curious how others feel on this point. I’ve been in the interactive world since 1994 and I do not think there is a day that goes by where I don’t feel like I am sharing knowledge with a client, an internal team, a co-worker or friend. That is how I have learned, and it really is the foundation of many communities online, like Creative Commons or the open-source movement.

Education is definitely one way to make the interactive world less scary and probably gain an advocate through positive influence.