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Social Media Protocol: Unfriending a Coworker Edition
June 9, 2014 8:25 PM   Subscribe

What's the protocol for blocking/unfriending a coworker if you still want to be friends with almost all your other coworkers on Facebook?

I helped a friend/classmate from college get hired at my place of work last year. Very quickly after, I was promoted to a leadership position that she wants and suddenly hated me for getting. She is now actively trying to get me fired so she can take my job. (!!)

In light of this behavior on her part, my managers and I held a meeting to address her "concerns" today and I committed (authentically, too) to being a better coworker despite the fact that all but one of the things she said I've been doing are untrue. She did not agree to treat me with respect (something my managers are not doing anything about because they believe "she is just young and will learn to do better in time"), so clearly, this is a south-going situation and if I could I'd just up and quit but for right now I've gotta stay put.

Given social media norms, how far do I need to do in order to block this person from my life? Can I JUST block her, or do I need to disengage from all my other coworkers too?

(She is 22. I am 26. Yes, I recognize how juvenile this all sounds. My work situation is so unbelievably through the looking glass now that it's honestly par for the course. Help.)
posted by Hermione Granger to Human Relations (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Just unfriend and block her. And start documenting your interactions with her.
posted by empath at 8:30 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


You can unfriend her, why not? But if you want to pretend everything is fine, you keep her as a "friend" and create a group of people including everyone not from work, and share your stuff with only them. (I do this in tiers - "actual friends"; PTA friends; etc.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:30 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


jeez, just block her.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 8:30 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


You could acquaintance zone her: create a group where she sees none of your updates and put her into that group. Actually, going forward, this is good practice for any coworker you would not invite over to crash on your sofa.
posted by jamaro at 8:32 PM on June 9 [12 favorites]


Not only can you unfriend her, you should do so. This would be a very professional, mature move. Grown-ups take care to remove any drama from their workplace so step up your game by taking action. I would also counsel you to look for other ways to increase your professionalism after receiving this promotion.
posted by raisingsand at 8:44 PM on June 9 [14 favorites]


The protocol for anything to do with Facebook is just Do Whatever The Hell You Want while remaining perfectly secure in the belief that any subsequent whining and carry-on is the whiner's issue and the whiner's problem, not yours.

Taking Facebook even slightly seriously is just inviting drama you don't need into your life. Don't ever do that.
posted by flabdablet at 8:50 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


Will your other coworkers bring up stuff that you post on Facebook? If not, unfriend or block. If so, are you close enough to your coworkers to let them know to back off talking about Facebook posts at work? I think the only awkward bit would be blocking her but then having her being involved in work conversations about things you've posted on Facebook.
posted by jaguar at 8:57 PM on June 9


While I agree that FB drama is stupid and juvenile, I also think that unfriending her immediately after you committed to being a better co-worker has the potential to make you look bad to your management, even though they sincerely and honestly shouldn't care.

So, don't flat out block her, just put her in a group all her own (or a group with your co-workers, and especially a group with anyone who reports to you in your leadership position) and share with that group only the most frivolous and generic and impersonal content.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:58 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


dont unfriend. make a special category for her whereby she can't see ANY of your shit.

But you can still see hers...
posted by hal_c_on at 9:04 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Given social media norms, how far do I need to do in order to block this person from my life? Can I JUST block her, or do I need to disengage from all my other coworkers too?

Yes, just block her. On everything. She's not your friend - she's your coworker, and an antagonistic one at that. There's no obligation to be her Facebook friend. Allowing her access to any non-work information about you is just giving her ammunition.

If you think she's going to kick up a stink, as an alternative you can put her on a custom limited access list so that she can't see any of your posts, but is still technically on your friends list.

No, you don't need to disengage from your other coworkers. But as a privacy professional, I generally recommend that you do not include coworkers in your social networks - rather, I think it's better practice to keep a bright dividing line between business and pleasure. But if you want to continue to engage with your coworkers on Facebook, I strongly recommend setting up separate distribution lists for your Facebook account - one for friends, and a different one for coworkers. That will allow you to make sure your coworkers only receive the information you want them to.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:11 PM on June 9


she was at this meeting with your managers, and you asked her to commit to treating you with respect, and she refused? excuse me? you shoulda dug in your heels right there.

i would cut her off like a cancerous mole. the company is paying you to do a job, not for how many facebook friends you have.
posted by bruce at 9:12 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I committed (authentically, too) to being a better coworker despite the fact that all but one of the things she said I've been doing are untrue.

As a side note, don't roll over like this. You are not the problem. She is lying about your conduct. Document this, and contest her lies to your managers with evidence. Be the rational, reasonable one with the facts on your side, and show her up. She's sabotaging the organisation (via her sabotage of you) for personal gain. Youth is no excuse.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:16 PM on June 9 [24 favorites]


Facebook, Twitter, et al offer a very easy solution for this - hide updates/mute. You don't have to see what she says, but you make no moves that are visible to her. They key in this is you are trying to be respectful and professional, so do not do anything that could appear petty or retaliatory. It should go without saying that you, then, do not post anything about work that could not be construed as 140% professional on any social media. Then, two things: you either ignore that she exists online entirely (as you may well do), or you figuratively give her the rope to hang herself with, as she may say something unprofessional or damaging online which you can see and document.

We had a somewhat similar situation in my professional sphere, wherein certain individuals in my department began posting lengthy rants or comment strings impugning people and situations in said department. That I know of, no one brought anything to our administration, but it became quite clear soon enough that administration already knew about it. Eventually these people were vocal enough about their issues that it became clear they were the problem, not anything they were complaining about, and they were asked to leave. So, essentially, one group in this situation remained silent and professional and the other group threw an online temper tantrum, and since everything on the internet is private...... mmhm.
posted by AthenaPolias at 9:35 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I think this is exactly what the restricted list on Facebook is for.
posted by kellyblah at 9:47 PM on June 9


If you're her boss *and* she has a grudge against you and is out to get you fired, block her now. Block her yesterday. Come on. Bosses friending subordinates on social media is iffy under the best of circumstances, and this is the worst of circumstances.

Hiding your posts from people on FB is notoriously ineffective- for examples, last I checked, it simply does not work if the other person uses a mobile app instead of the website.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:00 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


ps: At least one of those other co-workers you're friends with is probably on her side, or naive enough to funnel information back to her about what you do and say. If it's at all possible, I'd delete that Facebook account and start over with a new one unconnected to anyone you work with.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:03 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


There's plenty of businessspeak ways to say, if asked, with a straight face even that you unfriended her because you were trying to dutifully not mix work and play and be a good manager. Reach deep down inside and think exactly how you would respond to some kind of question like this, and be prepared to feed several people exactly the same canned answer.

In light of this behavior on her part, my managers and I held a meeting to address her "concerns" today and I committed (authentically, too) to being a better coworker despite the fact that all but one of the things she said I've been doing are untrue.

I've done this, and i've also dug my heels in and manned the bunker. I regret "No, that's not what happened and i'm not admitting to or signing anything saying something i didn't do is the narrative" zero times. Inversely, i regret every time i rolled over. And not just on some kind of macho "principal" or pride thing, but because now that you've admitted to that it's never going to go away.

It's absolutely possible to say "This one thing is true, the rest are not". The most recent time i was fucked like this, i backed down from saying it and i really regret it.

That said, although i've stuck it out in situations in which

She did not agree to treat me with respect (something my managers are not doing anything about because they believe "she is just young and will learn to do better in time")

would be said and nodded to by the person/people above me, FUCK did i regret it. I realize your question here said that leaving isn't an option, but there better be a really good reason why. Even just something like "i haven't even been here an entire year, and just want to put at least a year on my resume". Really niche field? Something? Because "shit's hard out there" isn't a reason to end up with a place where if called they'll say you're not eligible for rehire, and you're only defense is a ridiculously unprofessional/uncharitable and bitter sounding college roommate cockfight story to anyone who doesn't actually know how bad the dynamics of that office were.

Basically, i'd be double timing it to get out as fast as i could before the black hole sucked me in too, and i got fired. They already seem to be on her side to an extent. And depressingly often, the "I have a stupid petty mission and i'll do anything to achieve it" people like this actually succeed in many venues of life.
posted by emptythought at 10:12 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Oh my god, just as I'm about to respond to this one of my other coworkers texts me and is like, "Hey, how come so and so can't see that photo of your cat that you posted on Sunday? I was talking to her about how funny it was and she said she couldn't see it." I had already put bad coworker on my no posts security clearance thing and now she knows she's being filtered for sure thanks to Coworker 2. Fail.

I have now blocked the entirety of my office and am not going back. This is ridiculous. Thanks all.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:14 PM on June 9 [45 favorites]


wow the fact that they were willing to run gossip like that and ask you to try and get you to give some answer they could then shoot shit about just makes the place sound like a freaking den of thieves of drama. only really redoubling what i said above about EJECT. the more layers you peel off this onion the more tiresome it gets.
posted by emptythought at 10:24 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


I have now blocked the entirety of my office and am not going back. This is ridiculous. Thanks all.

Good for you.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:02 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


Good for you for blocking everyone. If asked, tell everyone that you're keeping your personal and professional life separate. Don't apologize or explain more than that. Repeat if needed, then change the subject.
posted by shoesietart at 11:29 PM on June 9 [14 favorites]


> Oh my god, just as I'm about to respond to this one of my other coworkers texts me and is like, "Hey, how come so and so can't see that photo of your cat that you posted on Sunday? I was talking to her about how funny it was and she said she couldn't see it." I had already put bad coworker on my no posts security clearance thing and now she knows she's being filtered for sure thanks to Coworker 2. Fail.

FWIW, I think the cat photo story is a fabrication. It sounds as though Terrible Co-worker has talked to Co-worker 2 about her suspicions that you've blocked her, and Co-worker 2 has said 'Leave it to me, Terrible Co-worker—I will find out if it's true!' Be circumspect about what you share with Co-worker 2.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 7:27 AM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Set up a group for people from work. Post useful articles that pertain to work and positive motivational items, plus a few funny things. Reduce any and all communication about non-work topics a work, on fb, email, in person, etc. When somebody asks about your weekend, give the bland answer, not the details about the hot date. Treat everybody as a professional friend, not a confidante. Model respectful, professional behavior, esp. for Disrespectful Girl. You were promoted to a leadership position; lead by example.
posted by theora55 at 8:56 AM on June 10


Late to the party but if you unfriend someone on Facebook then they won't know until they try and look at your profile at some point in the future.

There used to be a bunch of programs that could tell you who unfriended you (by comparing your friends list now vs one from the last time it looked) but Facebook seems to have closed most of them down.
posted by mr_silver at 9:26 AM on June 10


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