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.

Further Reading

Are you Lending Support to a Teammate or just Enabling Gossip?

How you can Put an End to Gossip

4 Alternatives to Throwing your Teammate Under the Bus

5 Responses to Have you ever posted a beef about a teammate?

  1. Great post! Even if I’m a little late. 😉

    I posted an article a couple of months ago that reflected a disagreement I had with someone. I had no intention of talking about them, but more about exploring my own mistakes in the conversation. Little did I know that person read the post and was very upset by it (even though I made no mention of them personally).

    We ended up having a pretty good conversation about the conflict and how we could do things differently. My point in telling you about this is to say that you are exactly right! If only I had bucked up and confronted this person head on in the beginning, we both could have moved forward. Instead, my post ended up presenting more truth than I was willing to share face to face. It made me realize that I have be more assertive in these situations.

    I’m guessing I’m not the only one that suffers from confrontation avoidance?

    • Hi Bob, I’m so glad you posted your comment. I think many have been in this situation but don’t have the courage or humility to admit it. Your colleague’s reaction is so typical. People tend to be offended or hurt (or some combination of both) when we don’t deal with issues directly. It’s not nice to learn that someone has an issue with you that they haven’t told you about. Once you try discussing the issue directly, you realize it’s a much nicer way to go. I’m glad it worked out for you. Thanks for contributing to the ChangeYourTeam community!

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