I am so grateful the election is over and the inauguration is complete. Over the past several days (and months), as both sides of the political spectrum threw knives at each other on social media, I kept my opinions to myself. That was – until this afternoon – when I finally chimed in – and completely embarrassed myself.
My childhood friend Brian had posted something on Facebook regarding one group of people that I didn’t feel was accurate. A group of people that I actually do NOT side with. However, I felt compelled to comment. I used foul language and came across very angry. In doing so, I contradicted everything I try to teach my audiences and coaching clients about collaborating and being positive and supportive of others.
Brian responded to my comment. He was not angry, but more like disappointed. And surprised – surprised that that response had come from me. I answered his comment, pretending I didn’t understand why he was surprised. But I knew that I did understand his disappointment and confusion.
For the next ten minutes, as I reflected on my exchange with Brian, I felt very uneasy. Then I realized just how wrong I was. As soon as I admitted to myself that I was wrong, I went back to Brian’s Facebook page and deleted my negative comment.
But I didn’t stop there. I sent Brian a private message and apologized to him for my comments on his page. I told him that I was aware that my comments were wrong. We have known each other for almost 40 years, and we have been through a lot of good times and bad times together. Needless to say, all was quickly forgiven. In fact, we ended up having a good friendly conversation through chat for the next 30 minutes. Before signing off, we reminded each other that we are very important to each other.
That is the key. That is why I use social media. That is who I want to be. I am human, and I make mistakes daily. I’d be a liar if I said that at times I don’t get frustrated by others’ political views. But I have been blessed with the ability to recognize my mistakes and to make amends quickly. And that’s what I did with Brian today.
From a business standpoint, what if one of my clients or prospects had seen my comment? From that time forward, he or she would question everything I say and teach about motivation and helping others. Everything I have ever said about integrity and reciprocity would be discarded as just hype to sell books and coaching programs. It would have been DEATH BY SOCIAL MEDIA! Death for my reputation and death for my business. No, that is not who I am or what I want.
From this day forward, I commit to only ever using social media to build people up. To encourage others. To inform without being hurtful to others.
I was once told that if it isn’t helpful, if it doesn’t inspire or it isn’t kind, then don’t say it. I needed that reminder today. Thank you, Brian, for calling me out on my mistake. That’s what real friends do for each other.