I just finished reading an inspirational book by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton called How Full is your Bucket. The book is a summary (written for the layperson) of Clifton's lifetime body of work studying the impact of positive and negative interactions with our friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers. They say that positive interactions "fill our buckets".
I think most of us realize the impact of a sincere compliment -- I know it can lighten my step throughout the day. Sometimes I'll even pull out the memory of it later, and wrap myself in it like a cozy blanket. I also, unfortunately, have had my share of negative interactions whose memories sneak up and undermine my confidence at inopportune moments.
Rath and Clifton recommend actively "filling other people's buckets" -- giving sincere compliments and personally acknowledging those with whom you interact in a positive way -- as a way of filling your own bucket. I have found that growing my PLN with Twitter is an almost constant stream into my bucket, as well as providing endless opportunities to do some bucket-filling.
Consider the thoughtful retweet. (I use the word thoughtful, because random retweets are meaningless). When you retweet another professional, you are effectively letting all of your followers know that you think that idea is worthwhile enough to share. You have filled that Tweeter's bucket.
Consider the uptweet. When you read a blog post that impresses you in some way, and you uptweet it to your followers, you again are making a statement that what this person wrote, among all the posts you may have read that day, is worth your followers' valuable time to read themselves. You have filled that bloggers bucket.
Consider the side conversations that can sometimes develop from a Twitter chat. The majority of those I've had have grown from a mutual sharing of ideas. Sometimes they are shared values, sometimes the ideas are at odds. In either case, the willingness to engage in professional dialogue shows that you value the other's ideas enough to take the time for a conversation.
The professional Twitter community of educators that I have been a part of for almost a year has rarely yielded negative interactions. On the contrary, the connections I have made energize me as a professional, and as a human being.
So here's my challenge to you:
Pay closer attention to your retweets and uptweets. Acknowledge to yourself that you are filling the author's bucket. Pay attention to when you are retweeted or uptweeted, because your bucket deserves to be filled to.
Let me know how it goes!