Being snarky does not pay

September 5th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Here’s a quick and easy communication tip:

Being snarky, rude, sarcastic, or caustic doesn’t pay off.

It doesn’t help win the other person over to your side.

In fact, it turns them off.

As an example, here’s a somewhat snarky email I recently got from
subscriber MF in response to an essay I wrote about why I prefer
writing books for mainstream publishing houses rather than

He begins:

“Dear Bob: I never buy any of your products.”

Already a tad snarky.

“But I do enjoy your emails.”

That’s nicer.

Next he writes: “Here are 2 things you seem to be missing about
the whole getting a book published process.”

Now, MF has every right to disagree with what I say or think —
just as I have an equal right to disagree with him.

But whether mainstream is better or worse than self-publishing
is, in my opinion, a matter of opinion. Not an indisputable fact
one way or the other.

So saying “I disagree with you” is fine. Polite.

But saying “you seem to be missing” is arrogant, rude, and
presumptuous — as it assumes he is right and I am wrong, which is
exactly what MF did.

Another obnoxious phrase you should avoid in communication is
“You failed to,” as in, “You failed to do this or that.”

Hey, I didn’t FAIL to do it.

I either deliberately chose not to do it, deciding it is not
worth doing … or I didn’t do it the way you would have.

Or maybe I actually didn’t do something I was supposed to do.

In that case, just say “you did not do it.”

But don’t say “failed,” as it connotes insult, criticism, and is


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