Social Connections: Comments, Civility and Choices

“Wow, that’s what you really think?” I slapped my laptop shut, stunned by what I’d read. Was I overreacting to a comment made by a connection on LinkedIn? What’s my problem? Is this a teachable moment? I returned to the post three days later. I read the replies and six out of eight  expressed the disappointment, dismay and alarm I felt. Two, in particular, were eloquent, heartfelt and gave specific examples in which the connection was a part of the same situation he condemned in his comments. I realized two things. 

  1. Every “teachable moment” doesn’t mean you are the teacher. Those two were the teachers. 
  2. A teachable moment requires a willing student. The connection, while busy commenting on other things, did not respond.

The teachers taught, my thoughts were represented in the replies of others. Why was the comment still running a loop in my brain?

I have friends I love dearly and there are areas where we differ sharply; we don’t dismiss each other for our beliefs. I’ve worked with, laughed with, been partnered with unlikely people. Van Jones and Newt Gingrich, joined forces in 2015 calling for criminal justice reform and now in 2018, they are focusing on the opioid crisis. Difference in philosophies, politics, beliefs and ideals do not mean automatic hatred and inability to work together. People can and will differ in opinions. This was a difference in opinion. So why did this snide and snarky comment bother me?

Ahhh. there it is. This was a  a “snide and snarky” comment masquerading as an opinion. This connection has a pattern of posting comments are dismissive and divisive. A 2016 study by Michigan State University states: 

“People who are recipients of incivility at work feel mentally fatigued as a result, because uncivil behaviors are somewhat ambiguous and require employees to figure out whether there was any abusive intent,” said Johnson, associate professor of management. 

While curt remarks and other forms of incivility do not involve openly hostile behavior such as bullying and threats, they are a frequent occurrence in the workplace and have a significant effect on employees, the study notes.

This wasn’t wit and humor, it was incivility. Something that is harder to detect, because, hmmm, is the person being sarcastic, funny, what did they mean by that comment? My malaise is mental fatigue. This week, notice your experience of workplace incivility.  Does it exist? What’s the impact if it does? I Maya Angelou said “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” I support civil discourse, This connection’s pattern disregards civility and discourse. What do I do next? Lieutenant General David Lindsay Morrison said” The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept.”  It’s a balance. With much thought and consideration, I choose to remove the connection from LinkedIn.



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