What do Anthony Weiner, Chrysler, Cisco, and the Red Cross all have in common? They each have shared in the “dumb tweet” phenomenon that doesn’t seem to be going away.

On the surface it seems unimaginable why anyone would tweet compromising pictures of themselves as a political leader, or tweet F words as a major car manufacturer, so why does it happen?  The first thought is “they must be stupid“, but I can’t believe that’s the real reason.  Many of the Twitter offenders are smart people.  Agency owner, US Representative, Social Media Specialist, and a Berkeley Masters graduate are all recent offenders of “dumb tweets.”

Emotional Intelligence ≠Regular Intelligence

So if it isn’t stupidity that causes us to tweet things we may regret later, what is it? The real culprit, I believe is emotional intelligence; our ability to sense, understand, and apply our emotions to improve productivity and collaboration.

You see, we experience hundreds of emotions every day and each of us deals with them differently.  Think about when you are in traffic, stuck outside on a hot day, angry with someone, etc.  These are all times where we may behave differently than normal.  How we understand, sense, and apply our decisions in these situations is what determines our emotional intelligence.

If we look back at the recent blunders, it becomes apparent that many of the career destroying tweets were backed by certain emotions.

Anthony Weiner U.S. Representative

Mr. Weiner’s resignation may finally end the buzz of his recent Twitter fiasco when he sent lewd photographs of himself to his mistress on Twitter as a public tweet rather than a direct message.

Although this seems like a simple mistake of selecting the wrong message option, the root of the mistake was an emotional one.  Every U.S. Representative knows in their logical mind that they shouldn’t use social media to share anything that would be compromising.  However, in Weiner’s case Twitter was merely a tool for him to satisfy an emotional urge.

Mr. Redner Loses 2K Contract

Last week the PR agency Redner Group lost their largest client because of an emotionally charged tweet.  Their client’s highly anticipated game “Duke Nukem Forever” was received by a volley of lackluster reviews.  In response, James Redner tweeted from @TheRednerGroup “Too many went too far with their reviews. We r reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn’t’ based on today’s venom.”

As quickly as he said it, he realize his mistake and tried to correct it by calling media, writing emails to 2K, and apologizing.  Yet it still ended up costing him his top client.

He admits it was an emotional decision, “I used a public forum to voice my complaints and I know better. I poured my soul into the project and when I read the review I felt like a father trying to protect his son. In hindsight, I should have approached the writer directly.”

The #MotorCity Tweet

Chrysler was appalled when their Twitter feed went viral featuring a foul joke.  Scott Bartosiewicz, the offender, was fired by the social media agency, and then Chrysler followed later by firing the agency itself.

What was on Scott’s mind when he sent that tweet? He was running late for work, something that does a pretty good job of making almost everyone emotional.

Red Cross #gettngslizzerd

When Gloria Huang the Social Media Specialist for Red Cross took part in a discovery of beer, her excitement got the best of her.  She made a common mistake of posting to her the company Twitter as opposed to her private account.

Unlike the other trip ups, the Red Cross took advantage of the buzz and used the #gettngslizzerd hashtag to generate donations.  Dog Fish Beer also responded to the cause, soliciting donations for the Red Cross as well.

Gloria tweeted later, “Rogue tweet frm @RedCross due to my inability to use hootsuite…I wasn’t actually #gettingslizzard but just excited! #nowembarrasing.”

How to Lose a Job Offer at Cisco

Lastly, Connor Riley was 22 years old when she landed a job offer from Cisco while working on her Masters in Information Technology from Berkeley.  Everything seemed to be going right…that is until she shared her true feelings on Twitter.

It didn’t take long until another Cisco employee found her tweet and responded saying, “Who is the hiring manager?  I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work.  We here at Cisco are versed in the web.”

Needless to say she lost the job offer.  Ignorance played a role, but she behaved very similarly to other 20 year olds.  When you hear good news, you go share it on your social networks.  Her excitement caused her to overlook the differences between Twitter and Facebook.  What was meant for her close friends, ended up being shared with the world.

Lessons in Emotional Intelligence

So what is the moral of the story?

  1. Don’t update social sites when you’re experiencing ANY emotional changes. Like the saying goes, “Don’t make decisions when you’re angry, don’t make promises when you’re happy.
  2. We are more likely to make mistakes when our emotions are triggered. Many of these tweet fiasco’s were just a simple mistake of sending a message publicly vs directly, or marking the right account in Hootsuite.  These mistakes may have been avoided if the user’s emotions were clear at the moment.
  3. Just because you are smart doesn’t mean you’re emotionally intelligent. All it takes is the right situation to get someone fired up and off their game.  That’s when their mind is competing with emotional triggers and we make regretful decisions.

These are just my humble thoughts.  What say you?

image courtesy of EAWB

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