Archive for July, 2011

Social norms for social media

Posted on July 11, 2011. Filed under: culture, leadership legacy, personal leadership |

Somewhat following the theme of my last post about beliefs and how strongly held they are – and hence why arguing logically about them is unlikely to help – I’m now thinking about social media.

For some reason social media appears to be perceived as being exempt from usual norms and protocols of communicating.

What makes me say that?  Consider these examples:

  • the increasing amount of press and media coverage about cyber bullying using facebook and twitter
  • media article about schoolchildren using facebook pages and blogs to vent their deep feelings as they believe their parents are not savvy enough to find them
  • requests from people on their twitter and linked in accounts for others to stop selling before “getting to know them”

This last one in particular has really spurred me into action (well writing at least!).  Why is it that people who would not cold call or doorknock – because they feel that this is hard selling and not the way they want to run their business – appear quite comfortable to straight off the bat sell to a new connection?  I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of connecting online with someone who has then done something we feel has stepped over the line.

Or have they?

Isn’t this another example of differing beliefs?  I had an experience not that long ago of meeting someone at an event and we exchanged conversation and then business cards. As you do. We connected via LinkedIn soon after.  Within a day or so I received a request to refer this person to someone else in my network.

That last step was the one where I felt uncomfortable – and I replied saying that I only refer people whom I know well and that sadly I did not know this new contact well enough to do that just yet.  Perhaps my phrasing was not quite right because I received a pretty strong message back from my new contact reassuring me that they were ethical and would not act inappropriately and felt offended that I felt the way I did.

Hmmm.  My response was to let it cool.  The contact and I are still connected, although there have been no direct follow ups or other requests for referrals – from either of us.

Picking up another thread, I attended an internet security briefing last year where a presenter made a great comment about  people seeming to believe that what happens online is somehow less real than things that happen face to face.  The example was to ask us how we would respond if walking along the street and someone approached us with a software package valued at $900 for only $39.99.  Most people would not buy as they would suspect it’s legitimacy or legality!  Yet how often do we buy this sort of offer when it is online?

And so going back to my LinkedIn connection – if the same thing had happened at a function (say a networking lunch) would I have made the introduction? Yes I would.

Having had time to ponder why I said no online when I would do the opposite in real life I believe it was for two key reasons.  Firstly face to face I can position the introduction as “here’s someone I just met who said they are keen to meet you” and also I can assess the established connection’s reaction at that time.  Secondly, I could have “sussed” out exactly why the new connection wanted the introduction and if I felt it was going to be for a sales pitch I still would have said no.

Are there things that you do or ways that you behave differently online?

As business people we need to be really careful about this because our online activity and presence creates just as strong an impression of our character, if not stronger, to others.  One great comment is that words published online remain accessible to everyone forever.  How much do we really think about what we post about ourselves?  It’s not just our words – such as in blogs – it is also the messages about ourselves that those words create and sustain.

When training managers and teams I often refer to the fact that we judge ourselves on our intention and others on their behaviour.  Just as we cannot see their intent, only their behaviour – that is also all they see of us.  Are we really certain that our behaviours are giving the message we intended?  Social media allows us to have an online presence and personality – I wonder how many of us are as careful with that as we are our real life one?



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Beliefs and brouhaha

Posted on July 6, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about professional and work issues due to my sensational trip to Nepal, however something has been on my mind and in my professional observation for some time.

The impact of our beliefs on our behaviour.

Ladder ofBeliefs

The ladder of beliefs is an image that describes the process by which we form (and can change) beliefs yet it is not quite what I am talking about here.

Perhaps an example would help – when someone in traffic gets cranky and yells at another driver, what is this saying?  Yes the person is angry (and some of you would recommend anger management classes).  Let’s go deeper than that:

from a beliefs perspective it could be that “I believe I am a better driver than you”

or perhaps that “my needs/priorities are greater than yours”

Usually when I notice emotions being expressed deeply and sharply it is often a sign that the issue at hand is really about beliefs rather than the actual situation.  I’m not saying always because this emotional outbursts can also be a sign of deep stress or other problems.

Why is this relevant? Well it’s relevant to me because if we focus on the belief that underpins the behaviour it does a couple of things:

– helps me to not buy into the emotional storm that is going on

– provides a more compassionate view of the individual

– allows a deeper understanding of the person to evolve

– sends a signal that this is an important and deeply personal issue that cannot be handled purely by logic.

This last point in particular is why this is really relevant for managers.

How many times have you had, heard or heard about a situation where a manager or person at work has tried to rationalise and explain a situation and it’s resolution using the facts alone?  And that person often becomes very frustrated with the other party as “they just don’t get it” or keep coming back to the same issue time and time again.

Emotions are part of who we are as human beings yet when they are tapped into or allowed to get out of control it becomes difficult and challenging for everyone involved.

By no means should we all dive in to explore the beliefs behind the actions or others – this is an area where training and deep skills are required, and besides it is often just not relevant.

What is relevant is to be aware of and alert to the signs that a belief has been challenged as this will help you to identify a way to address the situation and not inflame it.

I’ve recently seen some examples of what could only be described as beligerant behaviour – in a range of contexts – and it comes down to the fact that in every instance I believe that the person’s belief system was (in their view) threatened or challenged and they took an emotional response to it.

Most of the time we fail to realise how telling our behaviours actually are.

I’ve also seen some examples of where beautiful beliefs have been expressed and demonstrated – to the point where I am proud to be a human being and proud to be able to learn from others every day.

What are your behaviours and emotional reactions saying about your beliefs? Are you comfortable with the message you are sending out?  Most of us never question our beliefs because they are formed so early in our lives.  Maybe now is the time to reflect and evaluate which beliefs are aiding and which ones might be detracting.

Have a great day!

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