WORKPLACE / JUN. 26, 2013
version 5, draft 5

The Awkward Moment When Your Boss Befriends you on Facebook

Social media, Facebook to be precise, is one of the most commonly used networking platforms in the world with over 1 billion registered users globally. Almost everyone has a Facebook profile these days and as such, it has become even easier to ‘spy’ on employees, ‘check out’ new candidates, and get information on people you have not yet met! There are many advantages to using Facebook as a working professional, but there are also many risks in doing so too.

One of the most awkward moments you may experience as a Facebook user is the day when your boss sends you a friendship request. This could be taken two ways:

  1. Your boss wants to be your friend and socialize with you on a more informal level.
  2. Your boss wants to spy on your every move.

For many employees, the reality of having your boss send you a friend request is relatively worrying because whilst you want to reject the request, you worry about how this will look to the boss!

Irrespective of your boss’s true intentions for befriending you on Facebook, it is never advisable to accept the request, and here’s why:

  • It will give your boss ammunition against you if you ever post something negative about work or about your boss
  • You will have to be careful of every post you make, which essentially defeats the purpose of having a personal account where you can express yourself
  • Your boss may have feelings for you and by accepting the request you may lead him/her on to believe you also feel the same way
  • It is inappropriate and unprofessional for employees and employers to socialise on social media sites
  • It could lead to a break down in workplace respect, authority and structure
  • You may have to delete certain photos which you would not want your boss to see

Here is how to reject the friend request without losing your dignity, respect and professional working relationship with your boss:

Step 1. Select the ‘ignore’ option beside your boss’s friend request; this will cancel their friendship request.

Step 2. Block your boss from your page; this will prevent him/her from being able to find you on Facebook again, giving you the opportunity to say that you deleted your entire account for personal reasons.

Step 3. Go onto your LinkedIn profile, search for your boss and send them a ‘connect’ request. This profile is a professional and more appropriate form of ‘informal’ social networking, making it a safer alternative to Facebook. If your boss asks you why you have not accepted his/her request, state that you no longer use your profile for personal reasons but you have sent them a request via LinkedIn instead.

Tip: Make sure that you have no ‘friends in common’ with your boss; if you do,  they will be able to see that you did not really delete your profile and in fact use it regularly!

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