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Rejecting a Facebook friend takes tact

In today's Poked column, which I posted below for your reading convenience, we address the question that comes to us from an evil Facebook-using genius:

BY BRIDGET CAREY AND NIALA BOODHOO
poked@MiamiHerald.com

A colleague and avid Poked reader sent us this inquiry recently about how to say ''no'' politely online. Here's the question: "I just rejected a friend request yesterday. Today, what's in my in-box but a friend request from the same person. What's a polite yet firm way to say, "Thanks but no thanks?"

After some follow-up correspondence, we learned two important things. First, the potential friend was someone our co-worker is familiar with professionally, not personally. Second, an interesting strategy: Our co-worker was Poking the person, but then declining the friend invitation. (Poking is a virtual way of getting someone's attention or just a silly way to say hello.) This created the illusion of friending because Poking someone allows temporary access to people's profiles.

Our co-worker said this is a way to fool people into not realizing they're rejected.

Bridget thought this was a good gambit, especially if you don't mind taking risks and you tend to deal with not-so-savvy Facebook friends. Someone who sends you two friend requests in two days probably qualifies.

But be careful. What if they want to contact you later on and realize they have no access to your profile? They might think you've defriended them.

Awkward . . .

If you want to be sneaky, the Poking strategy might work. But clearly this is neither a polite nor a firm way to reject someone.

We suggest honesty. A tactfully worded e-mail saying that you prefer to keep professional contacts on LinkedIn, and a follow-up invitation you initiate to join on that network, should suffice.

HELPFUL HINT: Bridget recently received an amazing friend request from a public relations professional who works for a company she writes about. He said something like this: ''Hey, I know I'm in PR, but if you accept PR people on Facebook I'd be honored!''. How great is a potential friend who understands people have boundaries on social networks? We love it.

Does anyone out there actually have a polite method of rejection? E-mail what you do, or any another questions of netiquette to poked@MiamiHerald.com.

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The best way to handle this is to set yourself on maximum privacy settings that way YOU determine who you want to friend.

As for rejecting? I say if you send a friend request once and the person ignores you, then you should take that as a hint that they are not interested. Of course, if they have like 5,000 friends and they turn you down, then you really must suck.

People forgot what it was like to have to interact with others. The computer has allowed people to completely disenfranchise themselves from others. While a computer provides convenience and autonomy, it also makes us to reliant on technology to meet our needs. When it doesn't work, or when it fails to answer our social inability to relate to others, it's merely a broken machine.

I meant to say TOO RELIANT... just like I was reliant on a spell checker/grammar checker to catch my errors... see what I mean?

And you wonder why I am off the grid? Alas...

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