How To Respond To: Unwanted Friend Requests?

Courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art
With the birth of new media, comes the excitement of discovering how we can use it to benefit our lives. It also births a new set of communication challenges. How do we respond, interact and connect in healthy ways on social media?

Today, let's look at how to respond to unwanted friend requests on Facebook.

If someone sends you a Facebook friend request, you have two choices:  Confirm or not now.

You would think it would be simple enough to pick a button and keep it moving. But it can be a real headache depending on the way you use Facebook, your knowledge of how Facebook works, and let's be honest...your feelings towards that person.

Your decision to "accept", "not now", or "unfriend" friends on Facebook can cause tension online and offline.

Here is how to keep your peace in 4 easy steps.

1. Determine your purpose in using the social media.

Think about it. Why are you using the tool? What interactions make you the happiest? What interactions cause you headaches? Once you know why you use a tool the way you do, you can make clear decisions going forward.

2. Assess your Facebook skill.

If you know how to easily set up lists, block people, manage privacy settings,  manage public or private posts, create groups etc you may be able to "confirm" more friends because you know where to put them and how to manage what they see. 

If you are not knowledgeable delay requests or deny them until you are comfortable.

3. Accept your decisions.

Regardless of your skill or purpose, you have to accept your decision. This might be the hardest part. Social media for personal use is a personal choice. Why do we have to constantly defend our choices? You don't. You don't have to bend to the pressure of using a social media platform the same way as the next person. 

4. Communicate your decisions.

If you are in regular contact with someone offline, it is best to be proactive with your decisions. You could either cower in fear, hoping they will never bring it up, or you can just deal with it and clear the air. I advocate the latter.

Here are some sample ways to decline a Facebook request:

"Hi [insert name], thanks for thinking of connecting with me on Facebook. However, I have made a policy not to accept friend requests from co-workers."


"Hi [insert name], I saw your Facebook friend request. I like to keep my professional and personal contacts separate. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or Google+."


"No thank you."

No is a complete sentence. The key is to be respectful in how to deliver these messages. If you are tired, annoyed, angry, or fed up with having to justify your decision, don't speak. Your tone of voice will undo all your good efforts.

Wait until you have calmed down. If you are not in regular offline contact with a person, you don't have to communicate your desire. Decline, ignore or unfriend, and keep it moving.

What are some tips you have for declining Facebook friend requests?

Have questions about the best way to interact with people on social media. Email me your question and I'll blog about it. (Names and identifiers redacted of course ;)

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