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  • Writer's pictureDr Shungu Hilda M’gadzah

Behaving  badly on Linkedin. Ethical considerations part 2. When do you call unacceptable behaviours out?

I am currently writing a report and need a break and distraction.

This has been on mind so I have taken time out to create this post hoping to get your feedback and to reflect on my recent experience on Linkedin.

So now for something different!  Some may find this post trivial but bear with me there are some lessons here that link to DEI and calling out misbehaviours and discrimination. What stops us from saying something and from giving feedback when people are misbehaving?

Picture this: Someone misrepresents you in a post.


They wrote a post last year and you responded supporting their post; that was 10 months ago. You did not receive a response of any kind from them at that point.

Some context:

This person is big on Linkedin, with over 200k followers. Some would call anyone with such a following a leader, even a role model.

Suddenly a few days ago you see they have posted a response and tagged you.

They write:

“Dear Thank you for your financial support…” 

But here is the catch you are not giving them any financial support. It's clearly a scam, a money making ploy to get others reading the post to think they are receiving all these donations.

They go on to say that you have always supported their content and they appreciate this. This is not true- you had just responded to that one post! They then attach details of their book and a link to a donation page and ask if you could contribute more funds to their work.

[More context:

Last year you had read a post where this Linkedin member was chastising her followers for not buying her book and this had made you uncomfortable but you had decided not to say anything. Other people had spoken up but on this occasion you kept silent.

You wondered whether your failure to speak up then (and that of others too) serves to embolden figures like this].

So what do you do?

You decide to check your feelings and interpretations of their post with your colleague and they agree the person has overstepped the mark. Given their high standing on LinkedIn they should know better. Their post is misleading and untrue. It’s simply designed to mislead readers. It is purely a canvassing and money making scheme.

You continue to contemplate what to do if anything. That morning you had published a post on Expert witnesses and ethics- operating with honesty and integrity. Surely such big figure on Linkedin should know better. After all we need good role models operating ethically and not misleading their readers.

The week before you had published a post on courageous leadership and on finding the courage to call out misbehaviour (and discrimination) wherever we find it and no matter who the perpetrator is.

Yes, but surely not all the time- sometimes we can let things go right?? Is this one of those occasions?

So, you consider your options and you reflect on the Six Stages Framework- steps for calling out racism. See my previous post on Linkedin on calling out racism; these steps can be applied to this situation and calling out any behaviours and actions which we do not agree with].

Whilst this behaviour was not related to racism or discrimination the steps could be a useful guide on how you approach this situation.

So here are the options available to you:

[Take a moment to complete my poll on Linkedin]

Do you ignore their recent post response and just move on?

Do you ignore their post for fear of backlash and repercussions and tell yourself they are too big a Linkedin figure to challenge and it’s not worth any fall out that may happen?

Do you follow your own advice on the SSF (Six Stages Framework- steps for calling out racism) and call out the behaviour but prepare for taking all the steps for self care and preparing for fall out.

[See diagram attached on calling out bad behaviour]

Okay so you have decided to say something, how do you do this?

Do you take the decision to respond and respond publicly to their response to you?

Do take the decision to respond but send them a private response?

So you are responding, what would that response say?

Consider the response below- would that do it?

What would you remove or add to this response?

See my draft response below

Watch this space for the next post when I reveal how I dealt with this situation and how the Linkedin member responded.

Dear XX,

I have just seen your response to my response which I made 10 months ago about your post.

I have to say your response and how you have represented it makes me rather uncomfortable for the following reasons: 

- It is suggesting that I am giving you financial support which I am not and that I have been supporting your content beyond this one post.

This could be misleading to those reading your message.

I think it would have been better if you had messaged me instead about your book and financial support rather than posting a public reply of this nature.

I know it may not seem like a big deal to you but I am currently writing a post about ethics and your post does not sit well with me.

I hope you are not offended by my message and take it in the spirit that it is intended that of open communication and feedback.

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