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The Fuzzy Line between Corporate Social Media Guidelines and Freedom of Speech

A dear friend sent a private email to me earlier this week, full of great observations on how the HBR article on Positive Intelligence I had posted on LinkedIn far from reflected her experience at work; where good intentions to create a ‘fun’ workplace and an environment of ‘wellbeing’ were sadly not translated into reality.

What concerned me most about the email was her apology that she couldn’t respond publicly due to her company’s social media guidelines. Her organisation wasn’t named, she was writing from her private social media account, and she wasn’t ‘rubbish-ing’ the company in any way; merely reflecting and commenting with great insight on why there may be a disconnect between good intentions and her end experience.

It struck me as yet another example of the underlying tension that exists between the individual soul at work, which wants to express itself freely; and the need for the organisation to ‘reign in’ and control. In the words of the great ‘corporate poet’ David Whyte, it’s about exploring the possibility of ‘melding soul life with work life, the inner ocean of longing and belonging with the outer ground of strategy and organisational control’.

I’ll be exploring this in more depth as part of my new ‘Enlightened Business’ programme. Organisations of the future will have to get this balance right; to sensibly allow freedom of speech while safeguarding against malicious and damaging public comment. Without using fear as a control tool.

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