Feel the fear

A guest post by Euan Semple.

Fear is one of the greatest inhibitors to people becoming involved in the use of social tools in the workplace.

At the very least they fear ridicule – not getting it right, looking awkward, saying the wrong thing in the wrong way. At worst they fear disapproval or censure, being told off for saying the wrong thing by their boss, causing a disaster by being indiscrete, or straying from the party line in a publicly visible online space. Much of this fear is reasonable. People have largely been encouraged to stay quiet, to not say what they think, at least not in writing, and certainly not in public. In many instances they haven’t even been encouraged to think. All that has been required of them has been to turn up and do what they’ve been told.

But things are getting more complicated. More and more of us, live more and more, of our lives online. We are more visible and more identifiable than ever before. It is becoming harder than ever to separate our work lives from our lives as individuals. When I began blogging 12 years ago I blogged anonymously. It just seemed easier than having to try to work out what I could or couldn’t say as a senior manager in the BBC even on my own personal blog. But eventually so many people knew that The Obvious? was written by me that it became silly to pretend otherwise. Achieving even that brief period of anonymity would arguably be more difficult nowadays.

I don’t think there are any easy answers. Clearly I believe that there are great opportunities awaiting those who have the courage to be more open and express themselves, either within the context of work or in more public spaces, but I never underestimate the individual and organisational challenges that this represents. One thing I do know is that the Internet is unlikely to go away, the genie won’t go back into the bottle, and we’re going to have to work out how to adapt successfully, and safely, to our new found potential.

To hear more from Euan Semple, join us for a workshop + lunch in Sydney on 30th October.