Social Media with Colleagues: Do or Don’t?

In this world of ubiquitous Friending and Following, it’s tempting to engage in social media with colleagues. It’s fun; it adds color and energy to your work life; it’s this century’s equivalent to water-cooler conversation. What harm could it do?

It turns out, plenty. At least, in my estimation.

So, here are some guidelines for deciding whether to Do or Don’t with colleagues:

  • My first criterion for responding to requests is to imagine them in my personal space — within 30 seconds of meeting, I can tell if I want to see them in my living room. If the answer is no, Don’t accept.

  • If you have a robust social life after work with dinners and openings and parties, while they are caring for ailing parents or young children, Don’t.  It could lead to passive-aggressive behavior towards you in the workplace (if not downright snubbing or hostility).  You’ll be deemed a gloater, even if you are not.

  • Ditto, if you come from the upper echelons and they’re from humble stock, or vice versa. In my experience, seldom do people from opposite worlds feel simpatico in cyberspace. It takes one-on-one face time for that.

  • By the same token, you open yourself up to their judgment, especially if you travel for work and post lavish photos. It usually backfires and incurs resentment.

However, if it feels rude not to engage on social media, keep these things in mind:

  • Assess what you have in common with your fellow workers (kids, vacations, style, entertainment).

  • Establish an unbiased relationship at work.

  • Get comfortable with them; don’t add them right away

  • By all means Do if you want to make a personal connection outside of the office.

What do you do with a boss’s Friend request?

Don’t: politely decline. You can always say you are not active on social media — it doesn’t go down well to say you don’t mix business with pleasure. And it’s ten times worse if you connect with your boss, realize your mistake, and Unfriend him or her.

Also, if you’re due for a raise and post your latest splurge on a Birkin bag, you’re liable to not get that raise — however well-deserved!