More and more people are finding that their bosses and co-workers want to follow them on Facebook. Many of these same people are alarmed by this as they want to maintain a separation between work and home. They also want to be able to post freely without having to worry about what their superiors will see. They’re even worried that if they say “no” they’ll get fired or it won’t bode well in their favor.
This topic was on my mind after a discussion with a couple of neighborhood friends the other day. We all agreed that unless you’re in a business like mine – where Facebook is a major, major part of what you do, there’s absolutely no reason for your boss should be your friend on social networks if you don’t want him to be.
You Don’t Have to Be Your Boss’ Friend
Back in the day, before Facebook was a household name, I worked in publishing in New York City. Every now and then some friends and I would go out for dinner or drinks after work. Though we knew our boss would have liked to come along once in a while we didn’t invite her.
- We wanted to be able to speak freely. With our boss there we knew we couldn’t let off steam.
- We might get a little silly. Did we want to be seen in an non professional manner?
- We didn’t want to be seen as suckups by other co-workers.
- We knew we couldn’t get fired because we didn’t invite our boss for drinks.
- We just weren’t comfortable with having her along.
Yes, it would have been a nice thing to do, but for us it crossed a line. It’s the same way with Facebook.
How to Say No
Whether or not to accept a boss’ friend request on Facebook is up to you. However, once you do you’ll have to consider everything you say and do.
- If you’re on Facebook at 1:05 P.M., will your boss see it as being on Facebook during your lunch hour or that you used the company computer (and time) to post?
- If you work at home and decide to travel with your laptop, will your boss be so understanding about your taking a Caribbean “working” vacation?
- Will you be able to put out feelers for a new job or discuss how much you dislike where you’re working now?
- Will you be able to post your “Naughty Nurse” Halloween costume photos without being viewed as unprofessional?
- Do you want to him to know that you don’t have the flu, that you’re really hungover?
- Will your boss view everything you do as representative of his brand?
When your boss is on Facebook, you’ll truly have to monitor everything you say and do – and that defeats the purpose.
The thing is, folks are afraid to say no because they think it’ll put them in a bad light. First and foremost, you DO NOT have to allow your boss to be your Facebook friend. You are hired to do a job, not socialize and any one who tells you they have to have access to you on the social networks is wrong.
So how do you say no?
- Ignore the friend request: Just don’t say anything at all. No explanation is needed, really. When someone ignores a friend request it usually means that person doesn’t want you to be a part of his intimate social network. It happens with friends and family, it should happen with bosses too.
- Say “no thank you”: If your boss approaches you and asks you to be his friend on Facebook explain you’re not comfortable with it. Let him know you like to keep your personal and professional lives separate.
- Open a second Facebook account: Create a second Facebook account only for professional people. Update it as little or as much as you like, but you can be more guarded with this one.
- Direct him to your LinkedIn account instead: Tell him you’d rather be his friend on a professional network than a social network.
You don’t have to be your boss’ friend on Facebook any more than you have to invite him into your home. It’s perfectly acceptable to separate home and work and you’re not unreasonable for wishing to do so. No one should make you feel bad or bully you into friending and you can’t be fired if you don’t accept your boss’ friend request.
Do you friend your boss or co-workers? How do you say no?