Knowing When to STFU

The Internet is a marvelous thing. Never before have people been given such an easy opportunity to be passive-aggressive whiners or completely unprofessional within such a public forum. As long as you can hide behind that glowing monitor of yours, anything goes, right? Well, not really. Sure, there are people in various professions who have benefited and who have built a brand by being unfiltered and uncensored. Shoe himself has left a distinct mark in our industry for being unafraid to speak his mind and call people out. However, there is a fine line between being outspoken and being unprofessional and immature. In this post I’ve outlined a few different instances where it’s best to just STFU (Shut The F*** Up).

Posting Passive-Aggressive Updates

It’s all too easy to log into Twitter or Facebook and tweet or update something passive-aggressive and vague enough so that the person you’re talking about doesn’t know you’re talking shit about him or her, but angry and public enough that your friends will sit up and notice. When I was new to this field, I was guilty of pulling that move, and it’s a punk move. It doesn’t resolve the conflict with the person you have an issue with, and it just makes you look like an attention-seeking drama queen. Have a problem with someone? Act like a grownup and contact that person about it. Don’t fire up Facebook and post an update about how “I thought I knew who my true friends were but I guess I was wrong.” Oh really? Well I’m sure the person you’re talking about thought he had more mature friends than that.

Whining About Work in a Public Forum

Everyone bitches about work from time to time. Nobody’s job is 100% perfect. However, there’s a time and a place to vent about work frustrations, and that place isn’t on freaking Facebook. Remember PSN (Pre-Social Networking) when you’d have conversations with your friends and family in real life and could safely gripe about your boss or annoying coworker? That’s what you should do instead of hitting that “Share” button. News flash: your boss can probably see your profile, and if he can’t, plenty of other people who can show him can. Lots of people have been fired for posting dumb shit online. Hate your boss? Complain to your spouse or close friend. Bored at work? Browse crap on the Internet or play Angry Birds — don’t trumpet to the whole world that you’re bored on company time. It astounds me how stupid people are when it comes to oversharing.

Granted, you could argue that some office environments are more lax than others and that they don’t care if you post the occasional gripe or lamentation. I think that if you have a laid-back work environment and a mellow boss, you’re less likely to have a reason to complain in the first place. Plus, as an employer, you should care about what your staff is saying about you online. They’re acting as your brand ambassador whether it’s intentional or not, so you have to monitor these mentions and make note of any negative behavior. Would you want a surly, uninspired person on your team?

Whining About Clients/Customers in a Public Forum

You’d think this was a no-brainer, but I’ve seen it happen. Some people bite the hand that feeds them and will post complaints about clients or customers for their current and potential clients and customers to see. Pretty unprofessional in the most basic sense of the word, right? If you’re frustrated with a client or a customer, talk to your co-workers or your boss about it. The last thing you want to do is whine publicly about how stubborn and ignorant your client is being or about how big a moron this customer is for asking a stupid question.

Oversharing Private Work Matters

Nobody wants to see how the sausage gets made. Many companies seem like puppies and rainbows on the outside, but every business has its hiccups and headaches from time to time. Airing out your dirty laundry in public can make people question your professionalism and whether you guys have your shit together over there. If you’re firing someone, getting audited, etc., these sensitive matters should be handled with tact and grace instead of being trumpeted out to your 12,000 Twitter followers. You can share company news with your fans and followers, but you need to identify which information is worth sharing and how the message should be framed instead of being 100% transparent at the cost of inadvertently harming your reputation.

What say you, readers, are there any other instances where people need to step away from the computer and take a break from incessant over-sharing? Have you seen instances where public posts or rants have bitten that person or company in the ass?