I have just 'unfriended' someone on a well-known social media platform. I thought long and hard about it and, now, 'click' - it is done.
Maybe it is no big deal for you. Maybe you are unfriending people all the time, left and right but, for me, this was the first time. I await the outcome of my actions with trepidation.
I would like to think I have done this to spare myself and my newly unfriended friend a lot of hassle and grief, but this is not the case. I have done it to get his attention.
For a long time now his daily posts have alternated between the unnecessary (and attention seeking) and the downright insulting.
Everyone has the potential to be a monster on social media
I know him to be a decent man with a good heart, but when he gets on social media it seems that he just cannot help himself. I have repeatedly tried to indicate to him that his social media personality is totally different to his real personality, but he seems blissfully unaware of how he comes across to other people. And yes - he may not even notice my actions, and yes - I am probably taking all this a bit too seriously.
Nevertheless, I am left thinking that maybe everyone has the potential to be a monster on social media.
As an example - my unfriended friend habitually asks people things online like how 'important' he is to them and why he is important to them.
The people who reply are unfailingly positive in their replies - so maybe it is me who is out of step after all?
All this got me thinking about the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us. At work, we may have a performance appraisal process that, as a minimum, will tell us what our boss thinks of us. If we have feedback contracts with others at work, they too will tell us (when asked) how we come across to them.
Prepare to be insulted
My research in this area reveals that there are always two sides to every coin and the clear evidence of a virtue or a strength inevitably carries with it the tell tale signs of a fault. So, brace yourself for some examples, and prepare to be insulted.
People at work who (maybe like you) are rational, thorough, precise, logical, and make authoritative judgements (all fine qualities) are also seen by others (for the very same reasons) as being rigid, ruthless, cold and calculating, limited by the need for proof or explanation and short term thinkers. Ouch!
There's more … maybe you are imaginative, adventurous, experimental, artistic, and like to explore new places and novel concepts?
Well, guess what? You are seen by many people as being unfocused, impulsive and rash; tending to go off on tangents and you rely too much on guesswork! Ouch again.
You can be seen in such different ways!
It is amazing that one person, like you, can be seen in such different ways!
Not found yourself yet? Try these on for size. Are you careful, methodical, reliable, disciplined, do a detailed job and have a reputation for 'getting things done'?
Then you may or may not be surprised to learn that you also come across to people as being a nit-picking person, bossy, stuck in a rut and (brace yourself) … boring.
Finally, are you caring, friendly, sociable, understanding, humane and expressive? Such fine attributes that surely everyone can appreciate?
Not so, I am afraid - many people have already decided that you are over-sensitive, not at all business-like, sentimental and emotional.
You should do something about it
If being judged or misjudged in this way could have a negative effect on your career aspirations, then perhaps you should do something about it. You could:
1. Study the positive and the negative comments shown above
2. Decide which are true and are fair comments (be honest with yourself)
3. Determine which of the comments are untrue
4. Take actions that demonstrate that you cannot be accurately described as having any of the negative characteristics listed above.
So, good luck with your self-appraisal and let's try not take ourselves too seriously.
© 2016 Frank Newberry
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