As I read my Twitter feed this morning I was reminded just how much whinging goes on within Twitter.
Sometimes the whinges are humourous observations. Sometimes they are raging indignation. And what do people do? They tell Twitter.
What is more, they tell Twitter and then complain when the person or organsiation they are complaining about does not respond. And then they tell that to Twitter as well.
Why don’t Twitterers take their complaint to the organisation?
And while you are thinking about that question, also ask yourself this;
Why don’t employees and colleagues take their complaints to management?
It might be because the organisation does not have an effective mechanism for receiving such feedback. More fool them.
It might be because the organisation is deemed to be too powerful to render feedback unsafe or futile. Twitter or social media can provide a means of levelling that power hierarchy.
We might call this kind of whinging Displaced feedback.
Or it might just be harmless whinging, of course.
But then again, maybe they are trying to recruit sympathisers, collaboraters, or politicise a whole army of supporters around them dividing the environment into the Fors and Againsts.
Maybe they are deliberately trying to attack, discredit and inflict actual harm whether commercially or on a personal level.
And it occurs to me that Twitter is not so different to real life after all.
In the workplace, when A complains to C about what B did (or did not do) or say, we see the same patterns of
- Displaced feedback
- Recruitment of supporters
- Attempts to discredit; and
- Intention to harm
Now, of course, you can take the view that this is simply benign, harmless, trivial whinging. But with the six possible alternatives above, are you prepared to take that risk in your company?
Organisations need to enable effective, safe channels of feedback from employees, colleagues and clients. It might mean having to face up to previously unvoiced disagreements and dissatisfactions, but if it was a choice between them telling you, on one hand, and them telling the world, on the other, well, you would rather they let you know, wouldn’t you?
Neil Denny is the author of Conversational Riffs; Creating Meaning Out Of Conflict. He is also an international speaker and trainer delivering creative and energetic keynotes and workshops about conflict dynamics and collaboration within organisations like yours. In the words of one client;
“Neil’s approach to helping us all resolve conflicts constructively and effectively really works. Not only that, he’s a great speaker and gets the whole audience participating. It was so good people wouldn’t leave and we had to turn out the lights to get them going!”