A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE? (HOW TO AVOID EATING IT)
As an outspoken individual, I've made more than my fair share of LinkedIn faux pas. It's all too easy to respond to a person or situation in the heat of the moment, forgetting the potential consequences of the wider community seeing your post/comment.
A few weeks ago, I made a post mocking what I perceived to be an overly-formal piece of copy targeted at children and their parents. The opening line had me in stitches, and I posted a lighthearted caption alongside a screenshot of the post on my timeline.
A little later, I received a comment on the post from one of my connections. He wasn't best pleased with the tone of my post and made that perfectly clear in his reply. He pointed out that the original post was for a community venture, and that mocking such a post was in bad taste. After a little thought, I had to agree with him.
Although my post was never intended to insult or offend anyone, it also had no real value; it was just a joke at someone else's expense.
At the time of writing, the fact that it may be construed in this way hadn't even crossed my mind. Due to this, when I first read the comment pointing this out, I was a little bit miffed. It would have been easy to give a petulant response: to blindly defend my post despite its obvious flaw being brought to my attention.
However, with just a tiny bit of critical thinking, I was able to see the other person's point of view. I removed the post and messaged my connection to apologise for my error in judgement. As a result of this, he then went on to recommend me to one of his associates the very next day.
Now, every day on LinkedIn, I see posts that I find to be offensive in one way or another. Whenever one of these posts crops up, I always head to the comments to see the response from the community. More often than not, in the comments section of these posts, I find an argument.
It seems that people are often more concerned with being seen to be right than they are with being professional or courteous; this is a sure-fire way to lose valuable connections and the respect of your peers.
Humble Pie Recipe
- One chunk of negativity
- A dash of self-righteousness
- A string of closed-minded responses
- Absolutely no acceptance of responsibility
A post (and subsequent comments) made with a combination of the above will guarantee a nice, big serving of humble pie, usually in the form of angry responses, lost connections, and a feeling of shame.
However, if you're not a fan of the bitter aftertaste of humble pie, there are some things you can do to avoid this situation or to diffuse it effectively should you make an error in judgement:
Ensure your posts have value
It's one thing to complain about the amount of "shit content" on a platform, but that only adds to the problem; complaints don't intrinsically have value. Sure, a couple of people may agree with you, but to really have an impact, you have to attempt to solve the problem. Provide some answers, don't just exacerbate the issue.
Don't make assumptions
I see a lot of posts judging people based on their profile photo, their age, or their industry. A person is defined by none of these things.
If you attack or debase someone based on superficial qualities or flawed assumptions, it won't be long before someone calls you out. Listen to your connections and judge them on their own merits, not your prejudices.
If someone points out an issue with your post, take his or her comments on board. If they have been offended, it's likely you have offended them. Try to see your comments from another's perspective: could it be construed differently to the way you intended? If so, you may need to rethink it.
Now, you won't always agree with detractors, and that's fine. However, to ignore or brush aside someone's point of view is plain rude. Engage them in a discussion, highlight the intended meaning of your post, and encourage debate. After all, that's how we learn from each other, isn't it?
Apologise when necessary
Occasionally, it's necessary to swallow your pride and make an apology. This doesn't have to be a negative or shameful experience. As I highlighted in the introduction, an apology can cement a relationship. Taking responsibility for your words and actions shows a level of maturity and professionalism which other professionals often find endearing (possibly due to its rarity).
Everyone makes mistakes. This is an unavoidable (and often valuable) part of life. The problems begin when you refuse to take responsibility for these mistakes or appropriate steps to fix them. I have nothing but respect for a person who holds up their hands and says:
“I was wrong, I’m sorry.”
Unfortunately, in an environment where everyone seems to be in competition with one another, the virtue of humility is easily overlooked.
However, whilst followers may want you to fight your corner and ‘win’, potential customers value honesty, and who’s more important at the end of the day?