My boss sent me a friend request on Facebook and I am really not sure if I should accept it or not. On one hand my boss is really cool. She is down to earth and really tries to get to know everyone on the staff. I think we have a good working relationship. On the other, I don’t know that I want my boss to have access to my private life. Not that I do anything wrong on Facebook, but I don’t want to open that door where something can be confused or misinterpreted. At the same time, I don’t want to offend her by not accepting her request.
Confirm or Not Now
Dear Confirm or Not Now:
This is a very good question, but unfortunately I don’t think there is an easy answer. Many of us were taught to keep our work and personal relationships separate, but now many work environments are more relaxed and informal. With the emergence of teams and teambuilding, colleagues and coworkers are expected to form relationships and to trust one another. But does this include allowing your boss and coworkers into your cyber circle? I think the answer depends on several factors.
One, are you currently friends with your boss? What is the status of your current relationship? Do you already communicate outside of work? Do you share common interests? If so, you may be more comfortable being social. If not, this may be an opportunity for you to get to know your boss better and possibly develop a relationship. While many managers, supervisors, and executives refrain from developing personal relationships with employees, there are many others who do not mind developing friendships.
Next, you need to determine just how much of your personal self you really want to reveal and share with your boss. Your boss may have access to family photos, relationship details, and information about your friends and associates. All of this information could possibly be used against you or allow your boss to make judgments about your decisions and associations.
And you are right, there could possibly be some negative feedback if you do not accept your boss’s friend request, especially if you have shared connections with other people in your office. Your boss may think that you do not like him/her for a particular reason or that you have something to hide.
Here is a real reality check, there is no longer a separation between the “at work” you and the “at home” you. With the use of the Internet and social media, employers are googling you before they even hire you. You have to be socially responsible and manage yourself well, even in cyberspace. While Facebook has privacy controls, you still need to be cautious about your activity and the things you post. Whether you accept your boss’s request or not, your information is still accessible!
Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It (due out Spring 2011), Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.
This was printed in the October 9, 2011 - October 22, 2011 edition