The unfollow button is your friend
Maybe you’d very much like to be excluded from this narrative.
Everyone has that coworker who insists on instigating arguments, spewing personal politics or religion or passive-aggressively needling others on social media. Hillary Clinton, asked in a recent interview about her longtime Twitter assailant President Trump, admitted she ignores a lot of his tweets “because there are so many,” but opts to respond “when I think what he has said is hurtful and unfair, and really causing problems for people.”
Do you brush off the person or swipe back? When do the offending posts warrant confrontation? Here’s what experts said.
Ignore. There’s little upside to sparring, Great on the Job founder Jodi Glickman told Moneyish. “What are the chances you effectively defend yourself, change their mind (or) come out taking the high road?” she said. “That’s a tall order for a Facebook post.” And more often than not, pointed out author and etiquette enthusiast Kelly Williams Brown, posts generating “run-of-the-mill annoyance” don’t actually impact work. “There’s a lot of things that people do on social media that might not be my thing, but they have every right to do it.”
“If they are just minding their obnoxious business over on their Facebook page and not actually antagonizing you about it in some way, then the absolute polite thing to do is to ignore it,” added author Lizzie Post, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post. Try unfollowing the person or creating Facebook friend lists with varying privacy settings, suggested etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer.
Hash out your differences in person. “When you communicate online you lose tone; you lose tenor … Intent isn’t clearly portrayed,” Glickman said. “Stop by their office and say, ‘Let’s talk about this face to face, offline and in private.’”
Be “tactfully honest,” Post said. If the person is hounding you in person for reactions to his or her posts, “it’s OK to set work boundaries and say, ‘I rarely participate with coworkers on social media,’” she said. If the coworker is tagging you in posts that make you feel uncomfortable, tell them so politely: “I’d really appreciate if you don’t tag me in things like that — that’s not something I feel comfortable being connected to.”
If the posts reflect poorly on the company — that is, if they’re racist, misogynistic, homophobic or violating company social media policy in some other way — approach the person to let him know others might find the content offensive, said Brown. If your repeated attempts to address the issue fail, she said, it may be necessary in “a tiny handful of situations” to approach a supervisor.
Use it as a teaching moment. This person — perhaps a new hire or someone who dozed off during employee training — may be violating company social media policy without even realizing it, Schweitzer said. “You may be the first person to actually tell them, ‘This is inappropriate; would you please remove it?’” she said, “and give them a chance before they get hauled down to HR.”
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