When you do something stupid, you know you’re doing it as you’re doing it. This was the case with me, as I was watching a nationally televised town hall meeting featuring the two presidential candidates. I make it a practice not to publicly voice my political opinions, as our client base is diversified and my personal preferences have nothing to do with our ability to work together.
On this particular night, for whatever reason, my stupid gene got the better of me. Annoyed at the interviewer’s line of questioning, I tweeted a criticism of the interviewer to my followers. Seconds later, a client privately replied: “I saw your tweet. Which political candidate did you think was being treated unfairly?” I made the mistake of answering.
The corporate communications director at this well-respected firm has been a trusted colleague for nearly two decades. I’ve spoken at many of the company’s corporate events and our team has provided ample consultation and coaching. I was tentatively scheduled to speak at their upcoming corporate retreat. That is, until the morning after my tweet when I received an email from my client. It told me to release the date as they’ve decided to go in a different direction.
Really? A different direction? Why couldn’t they just say we disagree with your political position which is different than ours and that’s why we’ve decided not to work with you? Assuming that’s the reason, it would have been more truthful, even if it’s not politically correct.
Tweeting was stupid and perhaps unprofessional. Given I tell my clients, colleagues and my husband not to post personal view points on social media, I should know better. Yet, I would never fire someone for having an opposing viewpoint.
From gun control to immigration to abortion rights to a host of other hot button issues, my graphic artist and I are on opposite sides of the political fence. Yet, I consistently hire him because he’s great at what he does. From Pennsylvania to Texas, we’ve had lengthy discussions about our differences and agree to disagree because we know we’ll never agree. However, we still respect each other’s professional opinions and move on.
This client couldn’t get past my tweet, not because I tweeted, but because I am diametrically opposed to his beliefs which he has shared with me in the past. That’s unfortunate because we have done great work together and always enjoyed working together.
In most cases, mixing personal viewpoints with business relationships isn’t a recommended recipe. In business people expect an outside advisor to offer their expert advice even if it’s contrary. They want your experienced insight no matter how unconventional. That’s what they pay you for. Voicing your unsolicited opinion on personal matters is an entirely different story.
In that case, if they want your opinion, they’ll ask for it.