It’s safe to say that most of us have been there… a quick Facebook search followed by the cursor hovering pensively over the ‘Add Friend’ option. ‘Will I come across too keen?’… ‘Will they think I’m some sort of cyber stalker?’… ‘What if they don’t accept? How awkward would that be?’
Common apprehensions for a common workplace conundrum which begs the ultimate question – should you ‘friend’ your work colleagues on Facebook? We’re not sitting on the fence on this one…here are our FIVE reasons why it’s an idea to avoid…
JUMPING THE GUN
Chucking your colleagues a friend request without really knowing them outside of the workplace could easily come across over-friendly at best and a bit disconcerting at worst. Take a step back and consider how well you really know these people and whether you’re comfortable with them viewing all your personal details. By the same token you’re putting them in the tricky position of having to decide whether to display their inner sanctum to someone who is essentially just a colleague. Save yourself the ignominy and hold off that hasty request – particularly if you’ve not been around the company for long… it’s admirable that you’re so enthusiastic to settle in but let nature take its course.
When it comes to social networks, Facebook could be deemed the most social of all – particularly when compared to the other main players such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Facebook friends will happily divulge their personal photos, likes and dislikes, family, friends list, relationship status, political and religious views, conversations with other friends; in other words, an open window into their life outside the workplace. If you’re adamant about connecting with your colleagues online, first think about using a ‘less social’ network, particularly LinkedIn which is specifically designed to connect work associates and clients. Keeping your relationship professional should be your highest priority; if friendship develops from thereon in, Facebook could then be the next step.
They say knowledge is power but sometimes that can lead to a sense of awkwardness, particularly if you know what a colleague has been up to in their own time. It could be that they’ve ducked out of work for the day due to ‘illness’ yet they were tagged in photos boozing it up in a nightclub in the early hours which is visible on your newsfeed – putting you in a compromising position. Over time, you might have seniority over your colleague (or the other way around) and knowing how they behave in the ‘real world’ could make things pretty awkward, particularly where the lines between social and professional conduct become blurred.
Unfortunately, gossip in the workplace can spread like wildfire. Being Facebook friends with colleagues who you don’t really know and trust could open a huge can of worms if they take umbrage at something they see on your profile. It could be the most innocuous and innocent of things… a photo, a mutual friend, a particular view or opinion… but suddenly it could become akin to Chinese whispers and before you know it, your ears are burning in the office. What’s more, senseless gossip could not only affect your personal feelings and relationships but, more importantly, your professional prospects if someone above you in the chain of command also takes offence. As unprofessional as that is, it’s a distinct possibility. Is sharing your personal space with little-known colleagues a risk you’re willing to take?
By accepting a colleague on Facebook, you’re potentially opening yourself to a flurry of unwanted and, let’s be honest, annoying invitations. ‘Join me on Candy Crush!’, ‘Come to my gig night!’, ‘Sponsor me for walking five miles!’, and so on and so forth. Before you know it, you’ll be expected to join all sorts of events and applications. But in the likely event that you’d rather not, how will that go down with your colleague? Is there an easy way to ignore or reject these invites without offending them? The answer, sadly, is often no.
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