User login

Positional and Personal Authority

Positional Authority is when you have been given a role that allows you to have more power over someone else. A policeman. A judge. A manager. A forum admin.

Personal Authority is when through a genuine connection and respect, people listen to what you have to say.

Whenever we use positional authority in social circles, we risk doing so at the expense of social freedom and growth.

As the admin of a large forum for 7 years, I saw a lot of issues that needed to be dealt with. Angry and hurting people sometimes acted out and disrupted the whole community.

I took care of almost every issue using personal authority instead of positional authority. While I had the power to ban people or words or posts, I very very rarely did that. Instead, the nameless avatars on the forum were approached with an email... a phone call... a face to face talk if possible. I did the hard work of treating people like people.

I found that when people are treated with respect... when they are listened to... they not only listen back, but turn into loyal allies.

When you have issues in social networks that you are hosting, resist focusing on the presenting issue. Instead interact with the people and the issues will resolve themselves. It is harder, but it is worth it.