is it OK to be Facebook friends with people I manage?

A reader writes:

I’m the manager of a team where everyone gets along well and works effectively with one another. I’ve known most of the people on the team since before they worked for me, as professional contacts in other contexts. One of the people had friended me on Facebook before we worked together. Now I’m this person’s manager. I don’t post any work-related items on Facebook, but I can see how this could be problematic. I want to avoid an appearance of favoritism, so should I unfriend him and find a way to gracefully deflect the question of why? Or do I just continue as-is seeing as it hasn’t caused any problems yet?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Can I give more feedback to someone I recently fired?
  • Employee returned from vacation a day early
  • My manager told my coworker and me to decide who gets to go on a business trip
  • Asking people to knock on my door before entering

{ 107 comments… read them below }

  1. EPLawyer*

    Giving feedback to the person fired: They didn’t listen to the feedback when they were worked for you, they aren’t going to now. I know you believe that if you just find the magic words the person will change their attitude and be a better employee in their next job. But that is not going to happen. You talked to the person about how they had to actually show up for work in order to continue to be employed. They didn’t. You are not going to suddenly get through to them now that they’ve seen the consequences are real.

    Not your circus, not your monkeys.

    1. Emmie*

      Yes. The manager already gave her feedback, and fired her. She didn’t want to hear it. It is inappropriate to continue explaining improvements needed after the termination conversation – even under the guise of help.

    2. Indy Dem*

      Looking at it from the opposite direction, if I was fired by someone, and then they wanted to talk to me again, after I’ve been fired, to again tell me what I did wrong, I’d say nope, nope, nopity, nope.

    3. The Grey Lady*

      I think this is just a lesson that the employee is going to have to learn on her own. She’s clearly not in the right mindset for receiving constructive criticism right now.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        Plus, OP says she sees a lot of her younger self in this person – and she learned. This is how it goes.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Sometimes we think we are doing something for someone else, but really it’s because it triggered something in ourselves. OP might write the advice down and then shred it and never send it. The time to discuss it was before the firing. OP can’t save this employee from herself and needs to chalk it up to a learning experience and move on.

    4. juliebulie*

      I got the feeling (with no real evidence) that this person probably had so much other stuff going on in her life that the job was the least of her concerns. Again, there’s nothing to support that. Maybe I am seeing a little bit of myself in there too.

  2. Caramel & Cheddar*

    Honestly, even if you think you can maintain good professional boundaries on Facebook with your subordinates, it’s probably not worth it. I got promoted so that a colleague became a subordinate and the first time I had to do something manager-y, she passive aggressively complained about it on Facebook. She didn’t get in trouble because of what she posted (because it was fairly benign and who cares), but I did lose a bit of respect for her in terms of her judgement. If you’re going to complain about your boss, at least set your filters up so they can’t see it!

    1. Miki*

      That’s why I never post about work on my FB, and am never friends with coworkers, especially if they become promoted. Nope, not worth it.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Between the coworkers and the relatives who have added me as their FB friend over the years, I am now afraid to post anything but cat photos on my page. And the cats that lived with me have now moved out, so I guess this means I’ll stop posting FB updates altogether. I am perfectly fine with that.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          I very rarely post on FB for the same reason. I keep my account alive so I can see what’s going on with family and whatnot, but I don’t do any posting myself. I leave all that for Instagram, where none of my relatives have any connection to me, keeping it purely among my social group.

        2. Amethyst Anne*

          You could take up a new hobby, and post progress pictures of your increased skill level.

          I have been mostly posting links to interesting YouTube videos, reposting FB memories, and the count-down to “Hamilton”’s streaming on Disney+. I also will start talking about how close to done I am on the crocheted afghan for GrandsonAge4.5.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I’m FB friends with a bunch of people I used to work with (and was when we worked together), but I try to be careful about what I post on FB. I don’t trust their security.

      3. The Original K.*

        I’m not on FB anymore but I had these same rules when I was on it. I was friends with FORMER coworkers on FB, but I only accepted their friend requests after we no longer worked together. Anyone I currently worked with (even if we didn’t work together closely) or for was a no-go. Coworkers and bosses were for LinkedIn – there’s actually very little overlap between my LinkedIn connections and my friends on other social media platforms.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Same, although if we’re both gone from that job, then I’ll accept a friend request. I’m friends with my old manager from Exjob and my supervisor from OldExjob. All of us are no longer employed at either those jobs or any other company together (although my supervisor is now at Exjob).

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Most folks who vague-book aren’t known for being that great with that kind of detail ;) I have to wonder if she forgot who she has as friends on there…

      Before I add someone, I always stop to think “if this person digs into my history, will they have something to say about it?” and have absolutely deleted work related things I said previously before adding people =X But I’ve been on the internet a long…long time, in a socializing way. I had someone dig into an old LJ, like I mean almost a decade back to find my barely out of my teens self talking shit. *face desk*

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I avoid Facebook for that reason, and when asked, I frame it as a choice between Facebook and employment.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I like Facebook [clap of thunder and ominous music plays because who da fuq even…]

          So I just take precautions and remember “it’s the internet” and Facebook isn’t a message board of personalities spread around the world. I keep it to stuff that I’d most likely tell someone to their face if I wasn’t being conflict avoidant ;)

      2. feather*

        Welp, now I’m really glad my LJ is locked and not linked to my real name or any of my other accounts… Too much personal stuff on there!

        I don’t friend coworkers on FB, for sure, unless we’re good friends. I have one former coworker on there, because he’s a laidback guy who moved out of state. I’d rather keep personal and work lives separate. In part because I’m a queer liberal in Texas…

    3. GrooveBat*

      I always, always behave on Facebook assuming my boss can read everything I write. That’s just good social media policy in general, as you never know where one of your posts might end up (e.g., someone who is connected to the boss could share or reply to your post whether you’re friends with the boss or not).

      Also, LW could just unfriend the employee and employee probably wouldn’t even notice. It’s not like you get a big glaring notification that so-and-so has unfriended you.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        You kind of do. FB helpfully shows you the person who’d just unfriended you under “people you may know”. I hate this (I presume) bug. Not that it changes the fact that OP needs to unfriend the employee.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      The subordinate should be all over unfriending his new boss as soon as possible, IMO, but it wouldn’t be bad for the boss to do it if he doesn’t.

      I had a project team member who was having some performance problems. He was FB friends with his grandboss from before either of them had roles in our department. This guy would call out of work and then post new pictures of himself at a pub crawl at 11 am on a Friday. It didn’t help our consideration of his performance problems.

    5. edj3*

      I think it’s a know your culture thing. I am intensely private and keep a bright line between work and personal. But at my company, which is not small, it’s far more the norm to be connected on FB.

      Because I manage people, I don’t invite the connections. I’ve learned though that it’s better if I accept an invitation to connect because that is how the culture is at my company.

      And just to ward off the inevitable “your company is toxic” no no it’s not. This is an amazing company and I’m otherwise so on board with our culture. I’ve got several decades of experience with companies that span the range from run for your life toxic to amazing and this place lands on the amazing side of that scale.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I think a lot of people still don’t know what good professional norms are around social media, to be honest. My workplace is like yours in that colleagues add each other to social media all the time and it’s not weird at all, but if that’s the culture then you (general you) need to be better about managing boundaries within those contexts. I don’t complain about work on any service where I follow/am followed by colleagues because that just seems like good social media hygiene, but not everyone has gotten that memo.

      2. Sandi*

        Our workplace has no expectations although many managers are FB friends with employees. It works for our culture too, as we don’t tend to post much online and it tends to be hobbies or info that we share at work. New pet, photos of the garden, vacation photos, that type of thing.

    6. Momma Bear*

      You can also unfollow and restrict people so they see very little (and vice versa) but yeah, the relationship needs to change while they are your employee.

    7. Delmarva*

      Personally, I’ll accept any facebook or linked request from an employee (I’m the top boss at at 10k+organization).
      However, I don’t look at their posts – I actually hide posts from them. I never issue the friend request to employees. I also don’t post – I have the account to keep up with family – so the only interaction I have with my employees online is wishing them a happy birthday every year. Not accepting their requests was becoming an issue, but this solution seems to have solved the issue.

  3. employment lawyah*

    When a manager says “you decide” then I mean this in all seriousness:

    If in doubt, feel free to flip a coin! Often people try to convince others but that can lead to a lot of weird power dynamics and the requirement for each party to reveal personal information about why they want to go, and justify it, etc. Things do not always go well.

    “I would really like to go. Do you feel the same way? If so, I propose we just flip a coin: It’s fast and avoids any conflict.” Then do it. GET BUY-IN BEFORE YOU FLIP!!!!!

    If that seems odd or childish, feel free to tell the manager first, using the same line.

    Really, try it. I’ve used it in very high level stuff.

      1. PeanutButter*

        I have a friend who has an app on his phone that plays the Pon-Farr fight theme from Star Trek at the press of a button. We play it whenever we’re deciding something by coinflip/diceroll.

    1. Annony*

      I was going to say the same thing. First, agree to alternate trips. Whoever did not get to go last gets the right of first refusal unless there is a compelling reason the other is better suited for the trip. For the first trip, if there is not compelling reason why one should go, flip a coin.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Rock-paper-scissors. If both parties participate, the buy-in is implied.

    3. JM in England*

      It was a similar story for a former coworker at one of their old jobs. The difference was that their then-manager asked them and one other colleague to justify why each of them should not be made redundant. The coworker countered with something along the lines of “Isn’t it your job to make that decision?”…

      1. Senor Montoya*

        I am a nerd, from a family of nerds.


        You’re welcome

  4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Oh goodness, asking someone to knock is not petty!

    Everyone has their own preferences, they probably just had another boss that didn’t request it, so they didn’t form the habit. Just say “Hey, would you please knock first?”

    I’ve caught myself walking into people’s offices before and was like “holy crap, should I knock? Do you care about this?” and seriously most people just say “Yeah a knock would be nice!” My response is “I’m jumpy, so please let me know if you’re approaching!” I have family with PTSD, I know better than to sneak up on people and I still can be guilty of it :(

    1. Aquawoman*

      Yeah, it is okay to ask people to do things in a way that makes your job more doable. Things that seem small but just work around how you organize yourself are fine as long as they’re not a huge burden (eg I asked people not to send me deadlines as a calendar invite because it didn’t work for how I organize my time and track projects, but an email is fine, which is basically the same process anyway).

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I just had this conversation with a colleague the other day. He actually was apologetic that he writes stuff down all the time. So it takes a second longer as he’s taking notes or checking his notes. I was like “No dude, we all have these devices we use to stay organized and on track.”

        But I say this as someone who had to reteach herself how to approach someone as they slipped into the darkness of Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t do any good to not understand people have difference preferences let alone different requirements to make things work for them better!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I usually knock even if the door’s open. I don’t want to startle anyone.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, knocking on closed doors is such a reasonable thing to ask for. And it’s common enough that I think if every person on the staff enters without knocking it seems likely a previous boss established that as the norm, so you just have to let them know your own preferences and soon that will become the norm!

  5. Annony*

    Where I work, most managers have a policy where they will leave their door open if available. If it is shut, they are busy so knock only if it is urgent. You can emphasize it by locking your door when closed. It will be inconvenient to have to get up anytime someone knocks, but it will break the habit of barging in. Eventually, you can unlock the door and hopefully the new habit will stick.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Yeah, if I see a closed door in our office I assume they’re in a meeting, on the phone, or doing something that requires a lot of concentration (like grant writing or something). Unless it’s very urgent I just send a quick email saying “Hey, can you let me know when you have a sec so I can talk through something with you?” That way they can answer it at their own leisure.

    2. Lucky*

      I keep my door open to show that I’m available, but I expect someone to knock or clear their throat or do something to get my attention before walking in. I would do the same – get someone’s attention before launching into whatever I’m there for — for a colleague in a cubicle.

    3. CJM*

      Agreed. I wouldn’t even knock if the door was closed unless it was *extremely* urgent. This is the case for everybody I work with. If the door is shut, it’s for a reason, and you are not bothered by co-workers.

    4. James*

      That’s the way I work: open door means come on in, closed door means I’m on a call or working on something that absolutely cannot be interrupted.

      The exception is my boss. If he comes in my office, it’s generally because it’s important enough that whatever I’m doing (mostly stuff for him) can wait.

      Headphones work the same way in my office: if someone’s wearing headphones it means they’re doing something that doesn’t allow for random interruptions. If they’re not wearing headphones they don’t WANT to be interrupted, but it’s probably not a huge issue if you do.

      1. JM in England*

        I was going to say something similar. I have always associated a closed door with “Do Not Disturb”….

    5. merp*

      In addition to this, my boss has a door sign with “do not disturb” on one side or “please knock before entering” on the other, so it’s easier to tell when it’s ok to interrupt and when it’s not. I don’t think asking people to knock is a problem at all but if OP wants to make things even clearer, something like that might help?

    6. TiffIf*

      The offices in our building are all windows, see through door–no solid walls so its easy to see if someone is busy, but even then, when my boss’ door is open and I can see he isn’t on the phone, I still knock on the doorjamb just to announce myself.

    7. Anon Librarian*

      Where I work, everyone who has a door, puts a sign on it and shuts it when they dont want to be disturbed. The signs say, in a meeting/phone call.

      I appreciate it when they do bc otherwise I don’t know if they welcom interruptions or not.

  6. Heidi*

    For Letter 5: I think it’s weirder to not knock on a closed door in this situation, but maybe a less formal precedent has been set in this office. I’d say it’s fine to put a Post-it on the door saying, “In a meeting. Please knock.” It might train people to knock.

  7. Free Meerkats*

    Re: knocking

    I regularly close the door to my office when I’m doing something that requires real concentration or listening to a podcast or something. (Well, when there was more than one person at a time in the office…) I have a flippable sign on the outside of the door; one side says “Disturbable” the other says “Please knock.”

    1. CJM*

      You should also have a sign that indicates you don’t want to be bothered even if they knock unless it’s an emergency.

      1. PeanutButter*

        My father (who worked from home all the while I was growing up) would tell me “Fire, flood, or blood” when he needed to be undisturbed.

      2. Sneaky Ninja for this one*

        Mine is “Don’t bother me unless the building is literally burning down. Call 911, then come get me.”

    2. Old Cynic*

      I once worked with a woman who had a hotel style doorknob hanger that had a red “Please Knock” on one side and green”Come In” on the other. Her office was on a relatively busy corridor so she could seldom leave the door open.

    3. HR Bee*

      At my last company, our offices had signs that you could flip between Do Not Disturb, Knock Please, and Out of Office. They were SO helpful.

  8. Mo Social Media, Mo Problems*

    Social media is a huge problem at my work right now.
    First, I feel compelled by HR/PR to be friends with all my direct reports because I work in an industry where people highlight their jobs on their social media (some people can get quite popular for it) and I am asked to police what they post. I have had to message employees multiple times over the years to take down posts/pictures because they contain company-sensitive information that isn’t to be shared with the public. Why they cant just follow the written guidelines?.. I dont know. I hate it. I hate doing it. Its dumb.

    But I do have a follow up question. How MUCH can your employer police what you post on social media? I was recently told by our PR dept that employees shouldn’t post pictures of them associated with the organization (a non-religious high profile non-profit) that might be “too political”. I asked for clarification and they said it was OK for them to post themselves at work, their projects, themselves in uniform, or with organization property on their personal social media accounts in celebration of their personal holidays (Christmas, Hannuka, ect.) but not something like Pride, because the company doesn’t want to align itself with something “political”. I found this deeply offensive, possibly illegal. I have decided I’m not enforcing it until a formal document is handed to me, and if it is I will bring it up to HR that this seems like discrimination (why are some employee identities ok to be associated with the organization, but not others?).

    All this to say. Social media is a mine field that is not going away and I think will be a hotbed of work conflict for years to come.

    1. staaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrr*

      Agreed. I blocked my boss and their best friend on twitter because I’d heard they’d had issues with overstepping in the past. But they still see my posts from time to time and bring them up and I have to deflect that they’re not about my job because they really aren’t. Ugh

    2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “possibly illegal.”

      I don’t think it’s illegal anywhere in the US, at least for non-government employees.

      Banning someone from posting about pride offends me too, and it might be used as evidence about relateddiscrimination in the workplace. But I doubt stopping employees from publicly connecting the workplace with a certain political (or religious or social) viewpoint is illegal.

      But I’m not a lawyer. Anyone else know better than us?

    3. Lizzie Bennett*

      I had an employer who 1) INSISTED that everyone who worked with her friend request her on Facebook because “that was how she liked to announce things like meetings” and 2) policed my friends list (she would insist that I unfriend people she didn’t like or had issue with and monitor whether or not I had done so because being friends with someone she didn’t like was a “huge betrayal”).

      I ignored this red flag. I should NOT have.

      1. James*

        My wife and I don’t police each other’s Facebook pages to that extent! I don’t think either of us could even list who was on the other’s friends list–we just never asked that question. I know for a fact I’m friends with someone she hates and she just ignores it.

        If a manager pulled this on me, I don’t think I’d be able to avoid laughing at them.

      2. TiffIf*

        I literally don’t have a facebook account and I certainly wouldn’t get one just for work.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      This is why I don’t friend my managers. After havin one boss ask me to ‘tone down’ my posts on my own Facebook because they thought my LGBT+ posts might be seen as disrespectful of coworkers and clients who had beliefs against such things.

      (I only post friends-locked stuff but have a honking great rainbow over my profile picture. Also am openly bisexual)

      Never again. Learnt my lesson. There is a former manager of mine that I’m friends with but I stopped working at that firm over a decade ago and we only became friends after he’d ceased being my boss.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think generally in most fields it wouldn’t be reasonable for them to try to control what you post, though it’s always possible that something you post could get you in trouble at work.

      I think if you have your job listed on your profile and post publicly about working there, then it becomes a bit more reasonable for them to have some policies about things they wouldn’t want people to post because you are publicly connecting your posts to them. But also if they ask you not to post about Pride or Black Lives Matter then you are learning some things about them as well and I would certainly lose respect for the company. I doubt it’s illegal but it’s for sure crappy.

  9. Trout 'Waver*

    LW#2: If a former manager who fired me reached out weeks later to give more feedback on why they fired me, I’d consider them a complete loon. You already fired this person. That’s the most succinct feedback you could possibly give.

    1. HS Teacher*

      Same here. I wouldn’t be happy to hear from them at all. They fired me. They told me why. Why would they beat that dead horse?

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’d be like “I stopped thinking about you weeks ago, why are you so obsessed with me, Georgina?!”

    3. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      If the person who fired me reached out weeks later to continue to give “feedback” (criticism), I would: 1. not answer, 2. send a cease and desist letter via certified mail to the company, and 3. write about it on Glassdoor.

      She already fired this girl; she’s truly the last person in the world this girl would take any sort of coaching from now.

  10. noname345*

    Social media, this varies wildly by workplace. In my industry (ad agencies), it’s common to be connected to your bosses and colleagues on social, and we’d say things in our morning meetings far “worse” than anything we post on Facebook. In fact, in some situations, I think being the only person NOT connected with my bosses would’ve been detrimental.

    1. CJM*

      IMO, the fact that not being connected with the boss would be detrimental is an excellent reason why nobody should be connected to the boss. There are many reasons an employee might not want their boss to see their social media that has nothing to do with work, and they shouldn’t be penalized for it.

    2. Passenger Seat Anxiety*

      I have worked at these type of agencies and know how judgey people in this industry can be. It’s very toxic and one of the reasons I’ve deactivated the majority of my social media. The only social media platform I am willing to interact with co-workers now is LinkedIn. It’s just not helpful or productive to have people’s social and work networks crossing on such a regular basis.

  11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Leave the fired employee alone.

    If she learns from this situation, she has to do it herself. You can’t force someone to be accountable or to understand very basics like time management or attendance. Anyone who doesn’t understand calling in frequently is an issue, has to learn by being let go.

    And I repeat my age old advice that “bad at doing a job” or “bad at holding down a job” or what have you, doesn’t mean someone is a bad person. Of course she’s likeable and has positives, she’s not a bad person. She’s just not the right employee for the position you have that requires someone who can not only do the tasks but to show the heck up to do them! Try not to get stuck in that “I want to help this person I like” when that person you like doesn’t seem to want your help.

    If she reaches out again and wants to discuss, that’s the time. It’s unlikely but it’s happened before. Awhile later someone wants to come back and we have the very real conversation of “well the issue last time was your attendance, so has your life changed in a way to make it so we can trust you’ll be here on time for each shift? You’ll be on a shorter leash this time, you call in and you’re done.” Sometimes they just slink back away and don’t show up again, sometimes they show up and they screw up again, then they’re gone for good, sometimes they turn around and it’s like “Dang, they did get their stuff together, that’s great! Glad we gave them another chance.”

    But again, it’s on them. Not you. Chasing her down would be like an ex who breaks up with you and then calls you to discuss the breakup but has no desire to get back together, so why? What’s the point? “I care about you and want you to do better.” isn’t enough!

  12. Not Me*

    Having an exit interview with an involuntarily terminated employee is awkward and unproductive enough, don’t reach out to the person after you’ve fired them. Wanting to call someone after you’ve fired them to give them further advice…either you did your job while you were their manager or you didn’t. Once you severe that relationship, it’s no longer your place to offer advice unless it’s solicited.

  13. cmcinnyc*

    What resonated with me was the OPs comment that she sees a lot of her younger self in this recently fired employee and that’s part of what’s moving her to reach out. I struggled with this with a coworker–she was so manifestly in her own way, so clearly driving on the shoulder in a way I recognized and SO BADLY wanted to save her from herself… but it was not my place. I knew she wouldn’t hear it, because I didn’t hear it. When I was in that place, I had too much going on outside of work, too much drama and too much danger and too much routine emergency to give a thought to a vague concept like “professionalism.” I could see that in my coworker–who was really well liked! But people pulled away from her because no one wanted to be a passenger when she finally drove over the cliff, professionally, which of course she did. I still feel bad about the ways she crashed and burned, but I also still know that having a talk with her would not have helped. I found out that someone more senior than me, who this coworker genuinely respected, did indeed give her a gentle and caring talking to and while she appreciated it and said the right things it fixed nothing. Sometimes we have to make our own mistakes.

    1. juliebulie*

      I would love to be able to go back and time and warn my younger self about what was coming up and what I needed to do to avoid it. But I doubt that my younger self would listen – she needed to learn things the hard way! And my giving someone else a similar speech in the present won’t undo my old mistakes either.

      Next time I think I see myself in someone else, I’m just going to write a letter to my younger self and let it go. At least it will satisfy the urge to foist off all of my baggage onto an undeserving person.

  14. 789a*

    People are so weird. I would not knock on my boss’ closed door unless it was something that absolutely could not wait like an urgent call she had told me she needs to take. If my door was closed and someone knocked on it, I would be concerned there had been an accident, and if I opened it to find that someone just couldn’t remember an email address or needed approval on something, I would question their professional judgment. The closed door sends the whole message, people who can’t interpret that message confuse me.
    I think it is also rude to just walk into someone’s office without knocking even if the door is open. Knock on the door frame, or say “Hey, do you have a moment?” and then WAIT. DO NOT expect a response in the first five seconds. It is VERY hard for some of us to break out of our hyper-focus on work to answer your stupid question that we already answered in the handbook, and it could take hours to get back into the focus. Just… don’t be rude. Don’t assume that no matter what, YOU are this person’s #1 priority. It’s so weird when people do this. It shows me they have never experienced being on the other side of it.
    And lastly, it is beyond rude to silently sneak up on people. I’ve worked with people including managers who thought it was cute to do this or wanted to catch people using Facebook. I now won’t take any job where my desk is positioned in such a way that people can do this to me, and I don’t compromise anymore. I also no longer bother to try to mitigate my response as though I am somehow the one being rude by having a natural reaction to being startled. So if someone sneaks up on me now, they’re gonna hear me scream bloody murder and drop to the ground under my desk, and I’m not going to apologize or do anything to make it less awkward for them. That’s if I don’t actually hit them by mistake. DO NOT SNEAK UP ON PEOPLE. Luckily, people at my current office are good about wearing jingly keys or bracelets and jingling them loudly as they come into offices or around corners.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yikes, you seem like you’re wound up way too tight. Maybe give off this vibe in real life and you won’t have to worry about people ever trying to speak to you?

      You expect way too much catering to your own preferences and idea of “manners” and “rudeness”.

      LOTS of people forget to open their door after they’re done with their needed quiet space. Just don’t answer the damn knock and then judge them if they open it anyways. I ignore knocks on my door all the time and they know it’s because I’m busy. RME so hard.

    2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      ” I would not knock on my boss’ closed door unless it was something that absolutely could not wait like an urgent call she had told me she needs to take.”

      What if they kept their door closed all the time?

      “The closed door sends the whole message, people who can’t interpret that message confuse me.” Depends. If the doorway opens up to a busy space, the person might want it closed for quiet in general, but be open to being interrupted.

    3. Not Me*


      ” It is VERY hard for some of us to break out of our hyper-focus on work to answer your stupid question that we already answered in the handbook, and it could take hours to get back into the focus. Just… don’t be rude. Don’t assume that no matter what, YOU are this person’s #1 priority. It’s so weird when people do this.”

      The irony here is incredible.

    4. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “So if someone sneaks up on me now, they’re gonna hear me scream bloody murder and drop to the ground under my desk, and I’m not going to apologize or do anything to make it less awkward for them.”

      What? No.

    5. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “Luckily, people at my current office are good about wearing jingly keys or bracelets and jingling them loudly as they come into offices or around corners.”

      This is wild. If they’re doing it for you, I guess that’s really nice.

      But what if the jingling is annoying to people who want to hyper-focus on work, and the sound takes them out of that headspace and it takes them hours to get back into focus? What then?

    6. James*

      I hate when people sneak up on me as well, but “scream bloody murder and dive under the desk” and “hit fellow employee” seem a bit extreme. And folks have tried to kill me several times; I get it. But there’s a legitimate fear, then there’s making a production out of it.

      I’ve honestly found that 99% of the time folks “sneaking up on you” are just…quietly walking. If you’re hyper-focused (another thing I understand!) you tend not to notice little things like footsteps, quiet coughs, doors, traffic lights, and in at least one case large farm animals. Point is, what constitutes “sneaking up on you” for you may be very different than it is for someone else.

      Here’s what I do. In my official office I have a convex mirror, and I’ve trained myself to stare at it when I stare vacantly off into space while thinking. Motion catches my eye, so I see people coming up behind me (there’s no way to position myself so that I can’t be approached from behind). In my field office I have the desk oriented so my back is to the wall and I face the door. No one thinks it’s rude, and since the mirror was a give-away from a charity thing (cheap plastic thing) the only comment I’ve gotten was “That’s a great idea! I need to get one!”

      As for the rest, it depends on the office and the role. One of my main roles is, basically, repository for site-specific information. It’s MY JOB to answer questions as they arise (thus the desk-facing-the-door thing; it minimizes the cognitive disruption). And our culture is very much about information sharing–we’ll meet up several times a day to exchange info, so we all have it, in addition to tracking sheets and logs and notebooks and the like. I’ve also worked in places with very strict communication protocols, which require specific email formats. If you’re the exception to the office culture odds are people aren’t going to remember your personal rules.

      1. thebobmaster*

        There’s also the people like me who are just naturally quiet walkers. I don’t look like I could pull it off easily, but I’ve often managed to “sneak up” on my mom by…walking up to her and saying something. She didn’t hear me walking, so I might as well have teleported. I wasn’t trying to startle her, or sneak up on her. I just…don’t make a lot of noise when I walk.

        If someone were to react by me walking up and saying hi by diving under their desk or hitting me (?!), I’d be torn between not saying hi to that person anymore or intentionally walking louder every time I see that person. It would have to be intentional, mind you, because my neutral walk is pretty dang quiet.

        1. thebobmaster*

          *to me walking up. Note to self, treat commenting like feeding gremlins, but with a 10 PM limit.

    7. allathian*

      Yikes. I admit I don’t like being startled, but this is a bit much. I also don’t voluntarily sit with my back to a door, and so far I haven’t had to do that at work. I have a fairly strong startle reflex and will scream bloody murder if someone sneaks up on me. Luckily it hasn’t happened at work, but early in our relationship my boyfriend (now husband) sneaked up behind me and pinched my waist. Not hard, but I was startled. It was also the first time I was meeting some of his friends, so I guess I was a bit more tense than usual. I was holding a drink at the time and I whirled round and threw it right in his face. I did apologize for dousing him, but we got a laugh out of it and he learned not to startle me like that again. Just as well it was a G&T, so it didn’t ruin his clothes…

  15. Anon Librarian*

    Re FB friending employees. My supervisor is friends with a couple of us on FB. She is widely perceived to be biased in favor of one employee bc of the things we see on FB. I thought it was just me but recently learned the rest of the team thought so too.

    Unfriend this employee and dont appear to be biased, even if you are not, in fact, biased in favor of one or some of your staff.

  16. Oeskathine*

    Bosses at my last job were all super active on Facebook, and not in a good way. They would only friend employees they viewed as being very loyal to the company and constantly pressured people to leave them good reviews. Once a coworker accidentally liked a post about one of their competitors. Not an hour later he got a text from his manager asking if he was considering a job change.

  17. Rusty Shackelford*

    I knew someone whose boss would tell the team (4 or 5 people) to decide amongst themselves who was going to which conference. One of the people would always pick the best one and then announce that they’d bought a non-refundable ticket for their spouse to go with, before the discussion even started. I always wished the others would say “too bad, because we haven’t decided who’s going, and it might not be you,” but they never did.

  18. in a fog*

    Heh. In the earlier days of Facebook (probably 2007?), I was friends with my boss. And then she started posting about how hungover she was at work.

    If you remain FB friends with your direct reports, I would not recommend doing the same.

  19. Senor Montoya*

    Facebook friends OP: don’t do it. It can go wrong in so many ways. Ways that you may not even be able to imagine now. BTDT.

    LinkedIn for work
    Facebook for not-work.

  20. LGC*

    I’m sorry, but…like, I have problems with the answer to letter 1. (Granted, I am literally the same age as Mark Zuckerberg, so take that as you will.)

    Letter 1: I think it’s fine to keep him as a friend, but definitely unfollow him. I think what balanced it for me is that LW1 was friends before the promotion (and even independent of work), and it seems like the answer puts LW1’s management position over that. But another huge part is that…like, I don’t think Facebook friends necessarily = real friends. A lot of us are friends with people we went to high school with that we barely keep in touch with unless they’re trying to get us to join whatever new MLM popped up. So I think that the friend connection doesn’t mean that much, necessarily.

    As another aside, if you’re still using FB, LW1, beware of PYMK. If you’re using Facebook at work (no big, I won’t judge), please be mindful of your profile pics because your shirtless thirst trap pic might come up repeatedly as a suggested connection for your boss. Ask me how I know.

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but was there an update for LW2? There is just a LOT there.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think the fact that they were friends (or at least friendly) outside of work before is actually a reason in favor of disconnecting and demonstrating clearly defined boundaries so there is no perception of bias or favoritism.

  21. BigRedGum*

    Look. Don’t be facebook friends with people you manage. This is how my entire team found out our grandboss was a swinger and was divorcing her husband for someone she’d met at a halloween swingers party. there are some things you just don’t need to know about your boss.

  22. generic_username*

    I honestly don’t understand the mindset behind opening a closed door without knocking… Actually, one step further – I always assume that if someone’s door is closed, they don’t want to be bothered/can’t answer my knock (because they’re on the phone). If I see someone’s door closed, I’ll go back to my desk and send them an IM that says something like “Hey, I have a quick question for you, do you mind if I pop by?” (sometimes I’ll just type out the question/comment depending on how quick that’ll be).

    My boss has a very frustrating habit of opening your door if you don’t answer, which is annoying because the only reason I don’t answer a knock is because I’m on the phone, which is also coincidentally pretty much the only reason I close my office door.

Comments are closed.