If you even think about using social media to address an issue with a teammate, you have crossed the line. You’ve ceased to be the victim and become the aggressor.
What got me thinking about this today? It was an article forwarded to me by my colleague Lisa Langley. You can read it here. It’s the story of a woman who overheard two men sitting behind her at a conference telling what she perceived as sexist jokes (whether they were sexist or not is still in dispute). Rather than turning around and asking them to keep their conversations professional, she tweeted their photo to her thousands of followers and asked “someone” at the conference to “talk to these guys about their conduct.”
The story had an unhappy ending all around with the joker and the tweeter both losing their jobs. What a waste.
It’s just one extreme, strange example of how passive-aggressive our culture has become. We use the court of public opinion to judge a case with only half the evidence. In this strange reality, it’s impossible to tell the offender from the victim.
I find this all the time on teams. I often hear horrible stories from team members about how their teammates are belittling them, undermining them, or just being outright nasty. If I only had their side of the story, it would be easy to believe that there is a single bad guy. But I know from experience that I need to get all the facts. I’m always amazed to get in the room with the team and see that the people who see themselves as victims are often quite vicious themselves.
Team members have always tried to elicit sympathy by finding allies who are willing to listen to only one side of the story. In the old days, this would take place in the relative privacy of the washroom or behind a closed door. Today, it’s taking place on Facebook or Twitter.
Regardless of where you air your beef with a teammate, understand that the minute you go on the offensive, you are just as responsible for your team dysfunction as the other guy. If you’re going to do it on social media, know that the consequences can be severe.
Grow up. Address the behavior with legitimate feedback, direct and respectful language, and an open mind. Save social media for being sociable.