There’s no excuse for unprofessional venting on Facebook

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Dominic Knight’s critique of LinkedIn’s idiosyncrasies a few weeks ago draws attention to people’s increasing use of LinkedIn as a ‘work version’ of Facebook.

Ironically, some are also using Facebook to discuss their business dealings and partnerships. In a recent example, one person’s Facebook post about the break up of his business relationship immediately triggered the other party’s response that he never wants to work with that person again. Before you could say “business bust-up”, Facebook “friends” were taking sides and barracking like there was no tomorrow.

Broadcasting inane comments

Social media is full of these interactions, signifying that many people have yet to grasp that they are broadcasting. Many don’t heed the deceptive accessibility of online platforms, pursuing instant gratification followed by near-instant regret. Once a dummy spit or thought bubble is out there, it doesn’t disappear too easily.

The inability of people to NOT talk about such issues means that having an online whinge or rant can escalate to a defamation writ, resulting in a day or 30 in court.

The meticulous care expended in lodging wrongful dismissal claims or trawling through legal settlements is often cast aside in forums like Facebook.

Publicly bagging former business partners and colleagues signifies an expectation that the court of public opinion will somehow validate one’s decisions and stances. How can it, though, when strangers – even friends – aren’t privy to the context or the detail?

People using social media to slander, punish or arbitrate matters of which they know little are resorting to a pointless process, with little likelihood of improvement, let alone human reform.

No excuse for unprofessional behavior on social media

There’s no denying that work constitutes a huge part of life, and social media is a powerful way to harness energies, brains, new collaborations. It is proving extremely viable as a means of drumming up community support for an initiative, or canvassing opinions (within moderated boundaries) about new products. While they have some way to go, online forums are mostly okay for robust discussion and shining new light on many topics.

But there’s no excuse for unprofessional behaviour when it comes to social media (or anywhere else).

Save face by not resorting to Facebook (or other social media) for chewing over business breakups or conflict at work. If you’re serious about curating a professional image in the business world, this sort of venting usually results in egg in your face.

Turn emotional opinions into constructive energy: 

1. Keep your business dealings offline

Some work (and for that matter, human) relationships are simply not meant to be; “divorces” of this nature are bound to be ugly. Don’t be tempted to tell the world the other party is a thieving, good-for-nothing, ratbag – or worse.

The world knows and cares little for what transpired between you. Save your energies for keeping things as civil, ethical and professional as you can.  

2. Mull over lessons learned

Sometimes situations and their outcomes are clear-cut when it comes to apportioning blame. There are cheats, frauds and narcissistic bullies galore in the business world and they may get the better of you. You’re better off researching other means of reparation while acting on valid, disinterested ways to disengage from such people.

We all have opportunities to move forward, copping minimal damage on the way. As the Dalai Lama says, “sometimes silence is the best answer”. 

3. Consider a positive or at least constructive way out of your mess

This might entail anything from starting a different business or a new career direction to maintaining a therapeutic blog of your own about improved ways to conduct a business relationship.

Consider where you were also guilty of below-the-belt conduct. It will take time and developing emotional distance from a situation before seeing what you can do to rectify matters.

Or buy a Dilbert calendar and laugh at the absurdities people unwittingly trot out in the name of “professional behaviour”. Cartoons are worth a million partisan rants and boo-hiss social media pleas for compensation.

Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace. See the rest of Eve’s blogs here.

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