Unfriend: How to Keep Your Boss Out of Your (Social Media) Business

You can approach that awkward moment with professional ease

(Image: Thinkstock)

Ever log on to Facebook only to receive that dreadful friend request?

It’s not from a friend’s mother, nosy relative or a total stranger.

It’s from your boss.

Now, you’re faced with a difficult decision: Do I accept, ignore or decline?

When that request comes from a manager or even a coworker, a majority of employees are more inclined to decline. According to a report conducted by Millennial Branding, 64% of workers ages 18 to 29 don’t even list their workplace on their profile page, most likely to avoid being easily searched by employers. The survey also found that the typical Gen Y Facebook user is connected to about 700 friends. But only 16 of those friends, on average, are coworkers.

If you’re an active Facebook user, your friends are likely able to see many aspects of your life including photos of you and your family, as well as status updates, events you’re attending and more. While you don’t want to damage your credibility by letting your manager in on your personal life, you also don’t want to create tension in the workplace by ignoring or declining their request.

Here are three ways to handle the request without causing an awkward stir:

Just say no.
To be safe, it’s best to keep your personal and professional worlds separate. The easiest approach to dealing with unwanted Facebook (or any social media) interaction is to just say no. If your boss wants to connect with you professionally and does so by sending you a Facebook request, let them know your professional connections are on LinkedIn. If you’re concerned that you might offend them, explain that your refusal isn’t personal, but rather a matter of professional policy.

Use privacy settings.
If your company strongly encourages interoffice Facebook activity and you accept your boss’s request, consider utilizing privacy options. You can categorize your friends by lists that control how much information you share and who can see it.

Don’t befriend coworkers you don’t trust.
It may be possible that your co-workers are just adding you just to see what you’re up to, especially in off hours. Be careful of coworkers and managers who use Facebook during the day to see when you’re updating or posting. If you’re really friends with your coworkers, go ahead and add them. If not, it might be time to redirect them to LinkedIn.

Jamie Harrison (@JayNHarrison) is an award-winning freelancer whose work has been featured on xoJane.com, VisitFlorida.com and a number of Florida newspapers and publications. When she’s not reviewing restaurants and vacation spots, she’s writing about medical advances. She frequently writes about health and wellness, professional development, social issues and travel. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the great University of Florida.

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