Scroll through your list of friends on your various social media profiles, and if you’re like any other online networking obsessed time waster, you’ll probably notice a myriad of names you don’t even recognize. How they got there you can’t quite recall, but at some point you’ve given them full access to your profile information. Yet ironically, those are not the people you’re worried about – it’s oftentimes the people you do know well. We’re talking about coworkers. You see these people everyday, you work in the next cubicle over, you eat lunch together during your break. But when it comes to connecting over the Internet, that’s where you feel you must draw the line. You like to keep your business life and your personal life as separate, and with good reason. Goody-two-shoes though you may be back at the office, you’re an all-out hooligan after 5pm, your antics better suited far outside the office. But how do you bring yourself to turn down a friend request from a coworker and continue leading a double life? Read on…
Deny Requests from All Coworkers
This doesn’t really seem to answer the present question, but a strict policy that involves denying all office related friend requests diffuses most awkward interactions. If you make it a point to remain cut off from all of your office peers online, no particular coworker will be personally offended when he or she gets rejected. If, however, you accept some requests and deny others, you’ll likely have some explaining to do. Certain cast-out individuals will wonder what’s wrong with them, and worse still, what you’re hiding…
Ignore the Request
You could try to make life easier on yourself by dismissing the request altogether. Don’t address the issue, and maybe your coworker will forget about the overture they made in the first place. If they happen to bring it up, simply explain that you don’t spend much time on the website, and thus you haven’t gotten around to connecting with them yet. You can further spin your web of untruths as you explain that you likely won’t be logging on in the near future, and so they can expect your continued absence from their friend network. If you do take this approach, just make sure that you avoid making all sorts of public changes to your profile, dispelling the illusion that you have limited your online activity.
Create a Different or Limited Profile
An alternative to denying a coworker’s friend request altogether is to create a different, or in some cases, a limited, profile that your office friends can see. This is less likely to cause any hard feelings, and the coworker will often be none the wiser. Yet here too, consider creating a general policy for all coworkers. You don’t want to get caught up in an awkward situation where a good buddy at work brings up the table dancing pictures you just posted, but hid from others in the office. (Though is said buddy really a buddy if he sheds light on your rowdy weekend first thing Monday morning?)
As we all know, the advent of social media has brought with it some tricky dynamics in both the job search and the workplace. Always make sure to put your best foot forward online, and do what you can to protect your privacy.