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In Her Own Words Bosses, co-workers don’t always want to be ‘friends’

  • Published Thursday, Sep. 26, 2013, at 12 a.m.

Tread carefully if you want to expand your “friends” list. A recent survey finds that your bosses and co-workers probably don’t want to accept your social-media invitation.

A poll distributed by OfficeTeam says that more than 6 in 10 managers don’t want to be “friended” by their bosses or workers they supervise. Nearly half don’t want to connect with workplace peers, either.

It’s not news that careers have been upended when people posted too much information on their profile pages. Bosses can fire, and have fired, workers because they don’t like what they have viewed on social media sites.

But the reasons to limit your Facebook reach are usually more subtle. Often, a friending request simply makes the recipient uncomfortable – and that’s not good when job success depends on interpersonal relationships.

Here are five tips to help decide whether you should make Facebook connections with co-workers:

• Let your boss ask first. You can waste angst reading the tea leaves if you don’t get a response to your request. And please don’t ask why he or she didn’t respond to you.

• Check out how co-workers link. If it looks like close friends limit their Facebook circles only to each other, it’s a clue your invitation could be awkward. Similarly, you have no obligation to say yes to someone you don’t feel a need to read about.

• Ask first. If you really want to connect with a co-worker, you can always bring it up in conversation: Would you be interested in being a Facebook friend? That way the person can bow out gracefully: No, thanks; I don’t use it/check it very often/have the time/whatever.

• Review your profile. Make sure you or your friends – at work and outside work – haven’t posted anything professionally harmful on your pages.

• Set privacy settings. Use Facebook controls to limit who sees what’s on your pages.

Diane Stafford is the workplace business writer for the Kansas City Star. Reach her at staffordkcstar.com.

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