By Lyonel Laverde-Hansen
To accept or not accept a Facebook friend request. That is the social question of the moment. That question is further complicated when the invitation comes from a co-worker, who has recognized your name and picture.
This can be a tough matter because social relationships can form from work bonds, but several reasons can deter one from saying, “Yes.” Some people don’t want to mesh their work and personal life. Linkedin, the professional networking site, is often the preferred alternative for many co-workers.
Of course saying “no” can lead to hurt feelings and you must consider the costs and benefits. There are, however, examples when connecting on Facebook is not a good idea.
If you are inclined to talk about people at work, even an innocent comment can be passed on to others at the office. Complaining about work at the job, without naming any names, is also not helpful. If your views on politics or religion or social issues are intense, this may be too much information for a coworker to see. If you are argumentative with people in general (by putting up heated comments or replies on Facebook walls), that can also be seen by some as a professional issue. And the use of profanity or inappropriate language is an obvious concern.
Needless to say, pictures of you in underwear or after three margaritas can look very unprofessional. But even the timing of a remark can be troublesome, especially during work hours. You may be checking your Facebook while scrolling through a spreadsheet, but such multitasking is generally frowned upon by employers.
And just as revealing clothing may be too personal, revealing facts about your life are as well. Even random musings like “life seems pointless,” can be seen in a bad context. Clearly, “no” is generally the safe answer, but it is a decision you have to make, and you should do so tactfully.
On the other hand, people share more than only their professional accomplishments, and bond through seeing the highlight reel of each other’s lives (which to some extent is another way to describe the Facebook timeline). You can adjust your privacy settings, or you can keep your Facebook updates both positive and general. Either way, it is your choice if and how to accept.