What to do with your boss’ Facebook request.

So the day comes when you log into your Facebook and see that one friend request you never wanted to see: from your boss.

You stare at it for a few seconds, stuck on stupid, trying to decide what to do. There are a trillion things racing through your head: “Should I accept it? … but what about all my incriminating party pictures? Or the extremely personal things written on my wall – I don’t want my boss to see that! How do I politely decline without getting fired? Should I just pretend I didn’t see it? What if I hit accept and he/she finds out I am sitting on Facebook all day? What should I do? F*CK.”

There is only one answer: Deny.

It doesn’t matter if your partying days are long over and incriminating drunk photos are irrelevant to you. Or you live the most conservative life style, and  a complete open book. Remember, all it takes is one photo, comment, or wall comment to tarnish your reputation FOREVER. People are judgmental and unforgiving. The best option here is to ignore, deny, or pretend you never saw the request.  It is always better to be safe than sorry.

However, some people have bosses that follow up on their request. If they do, here are a few suggestions to get you out of that extremely awkward situation:

  • Deny, then swiftly change the subject: “Oh, you did? Sorry, I must have missed it… I have so many useless application requests I no longer look at the request section. BTW did you hear A-Rod admitted using steroids? Terrible. So who’s YOUR favorite player?”
  • Play stupid, then swiftly change the subject to a topic filled with acronyms, bore the crap out of them so they’ll lose interest in you: “That entire site confuses me so much, I only log in to check my messages. I’ll make sure to accept once I figure it out. Btw, did you see last week’s article in The NEJM regarding SCHIP Reauthorization? The DHHS has new directions, too. Ridiculous.”
  • Blame it on AJAX (will only work with bosses that understand technology) and change the topic to hot tech news: “You know, I’ve been meaning to tell you that due to an Ajax reload, I hit accept but my cursor may have hit deny by accident, and I was too embarrassed to tell you. Since then, I no longer use Facebook. But what do you think about FB opening its API?”
  • Or simply, tell the truth … well half truth and blame it on an unsuspecting family member: “Since my Facebook is extremely personal, I prefer separating it with my professional life. Especially (and make sure to firmly enunciate especially) since my mother/aunt/sister leaves embarrassing comments on my wall. I would be mortified if you saw it – but I have a LinkedIn, would you like to connect there?”

Or, you can simply follow AllFacebook’s guide on 10 steps to ensuring your privacy. But even then, there is no 100% guarantee, your boss will not see something you really didn’t want him/her to see.

Business relationships are tough. I would be damned if I jeopardize any future advancements and or opportunities because of Facebook – or any social networking site for that matter. So be safe than sorry. Trust me, I have seen many people not get an interview or judged professionally because of their Facebook and or Myspace.

Do you mix your personal and professional lives?

4 thoughts on “What to do with your boss’ Facebook request.

  1. Funny story, I know a guy who got hired because his future employer was scanning his Facebook and saw him at a party and decided to hire him because they wanted someone they could drink with.

    In my mind, once you’ve opened your life up to the web, you give up the right to privacy for anything on there. Anyone who really wants to get your information, see your photos, or know when you are playing Pac-Man, can if they want to. My Facebook is wide open, as is everywhere else I’m on the internet. I’ve only blocked one person on Facebook and it was more because I didn’t want to have to see them show up on my feed than because I cared if they knew what I was doing.

    In my mind, if there is something you don’t want your boss to see on Facebook remove it or un-tag yourself. Trying to avoid being seen on the web is futile.

    My strategy, especially with Facebook, is to open up the spigot. No comment or picture stays on my Facebook wall for long, not with my FriendFeed linked up to it. There is a huge amount of information that goes through my Facebook daily, it makes it very hard to sort out and find an irritating comment and it means that anyone who really wants to track what I am doing can go to one place and do so easily, and I know exactly what they see.

  2. I had the same thing happen to me recently. I certainly didnt want my boss to be my “friend” on facebook as i felt it was only an exercise in trying to find out stuff about me. Therefore I denied the requestand told her that my hard and fast rule for FB is that it is only for those ppl that i do not see on a day to day basis. That seemed to do the trick !

  3. Love this post thanks!! I found it after searching google. My boss sent me a request, which I denied hoping he wouldn’t see it, he submitted it again. So I denied it again, he submitted again. Next step, I added him with limited accessibility thinking that I’d just unfriend him without him noticing later (hey he’s got over 400 “friends” on his list he wouldn’t miss me) but nope there I see it again today, the dreaded Friend request. Obviously he’s not getting the hint so I’m going to have to apply your last step.

    I can’t totally say the personal/biz mix doesn’t work since I do use mine for business networking but the majority of friends I have on there are actually people I’ve engaged in non-work relationships with. I just wish someone would teach boss’s that they shouldn’t’ even bother to ask to friend employees because it’s stepping into an uncomfortable territory.

    1. Hi Rinna! Can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I wrote this post — so much has changed since then. I put colleagues and such in my limited profile list, where they can’t see any activity.

      But seriously, there is nothing more awkward than people we’re connected to professionally wanting to to enter our social networking world, but sadly, it is now the norm.

      Hope you figured it out. Thanks for your comment!

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