I hated my childhood endocrinologist. I would get nervous about seeing him weeks in advance. The reason was simple: he made me feel small, worthless, and stupid. After waiting for hours and hours to see him, he would rush into the examination room, tell my mother and I what was wrong and what I was doing wrong, and leave. He never spoke with me; he didn’t even speak to me. He spoke over and around me.
The same thing can happen in writing. A reader can be bludgeoned, or a reader can be respected. It’s the writer’s choice, but it seems self-evident which writer a reader will choose. A reader wants to be respected. A reader needs to feel that his or her values and beliefs, background, and intelligence are important to the writer.
Respect can make all the difference. It builds trust. It allows people to entertain other perspectives. It causes them to be more aware of how they speak or write. It urges caution rather than impetuosity. It causes a person to consider the feelings and interests of other people before his or her own.
A lack of respect makes all the difference, too. Readers won’t comment on a blog because they are afraid to disagree with the author. The author doesn’t control the comments, and readers fight with or belittle each other. In such an environment, everyone suffers. No one wins when disrespect reigns, except, perhaps, the people who feed upon sneering at others. Even they lose; people only will withstand disrespect for a certain amount of time. They eventually will leave and find places where they are welcome and respected.