The Voice

No, I’m not talking about the popular NBC hit show rather I refer to the ever growing dilemma of social media and personal vs. professional opinions. Where does a work or volunteer commitment truly end and personal feelings start? 

There have been many public cases where employees were fired for expressing their views regarding a situation. Is that legitimate? Does working for a company automatically grant that business full control and access over a person’s freedom of speech? Or (speaking outside the United States) does it give full control over every public comment to your place of work?

Option 1: Public Disclosure
It’s a tough call and puts both businesses and employees in a difficult position. Everyone wants to believe it’s easy to separate the two and just make a statement that they are expressing a personal opinion. But does the reader truly make that distinction and separation? I doubt it.

Option 2: Multiple Personas
The next step is to create duplicate profiles. Is this effective? Probably not. Most people know only one face, and it’s likely to be the one associated with a company. Even if it’s not, the odds are high they know where you work and your relationship. So again, you lack separation.

Option 3: Passive Aggressive
Often this is the path taken by people. Don’t specifically state anything instead speak in vague generalities and hope the right people infer what you intend. I think this is one of the worst ways to handle it. This too often backfires with everyone knowing exactly what you intend to say and serves to only make matters worse. Again only my opinion, but I’ve seen this happen firsthand. Nobody is fooled by a thinly veiled generality.

Option 4: Use Discretion Always*
I believe the best (and only) approach is to be thoughtful and exercise discretion in ALL public communication. Note: I said public communication. Among your friends, in closed rooms, and in the appropriate setting I believe it’s good to air your concerns and your questions. In public, your conduct should always be considered a reflection of your place of business. This means breathing more and writing less. Being careful of your word choice and your tone is important. 

Bottom Line: Be Polite
Don’t respond in anger or frustration. Try to evaluate the outcome of your post and what your desired goal is. Then filter again. Be respectful, be polite, and be good. It sounds simple, but in the heat of a moment, so very easy to forget.