Steel Advice: Don't feel obligated to 'friend' your boss

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DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My boss has tried to "friend" me on Facebook. It makes me uncomfortable. It seems inappropriate to me. I have not accepted the requests, but my boss has sent me this request three times. What should I do?


DEAR LEERY: Follow your instincts. Mixing personal and business relationships on Facebook is the wrong decision for you. Email your boss or tell him/her in person that you saw the friend request but you are trying to limit your Facebook account to a small circle that is mostly family and family friends. It is not necessary to elaborate or apologize for this choice. Suggest LinkedIn as your preferred professional social media site.

It is good to have some distance between your work life and your personal life. Even though sophisticated privacy controls are available on Facebook, you have to know how to use them and their application has to be consistent. Personal information can become public with a click of the keyboard if you don't know what you are doing. Play it safe in cyberspace and limit who can peek in your windows.

DEAR STEEL ADVICE: For 30 years, my husband and I have traveled in bad weather to go back to our hometown for the holidays. The last two Christmases we spent with my husband's sister. I was asked by my mom when we're coming back, which is a five-hour drive, and I asked why don't they come to our place. She said, "We visited," and I told her it had been seven years. My mom criticized me and my husband and hung up on him. He didn't even get one word out. I can see why my mom won't visit because she is 86 years old. I then got an email from my sister pouring her heart out saying how when we're there how we have such a good time, which we do. She then proceeds to say, "If you're keeping score on how many times we're going to visit, you will be highly disappointed." I tried to explain that we just want to reciprocate, as we love to entertain. I was very hurt by this remark. I don't understand why she won't come and see me. Money is not an issue because she takes her family to Florida.


DEAR HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Holidays are loaded with tradition, stress and guilt. By making plans in August, your family is getting a head start on the stress and guilt. Your mom and sister are hurt and angry because you stepped out of the box and challenged their control of the family's 30-year holiday visiting pattern. They may be filtering your conversations and embellishing what you and your husband said. Just thinking and talking about Christmas gives them relief from the summer heat.

Move forward one season at a time. Traveling may continue to be one-sided because of your mom's age. It is unrealistic and selfish of you to expect the hometown gang to pick up and reverse travel roles because you have made a decision to stop your long-established pattern of travel. You can't abruptly say, "Now it's your turn" and expect to get a positive response. Holiday visits, however, are not command performances. Unlike income tax, you are allowed to skip a few years and not incur a penalty.

Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice. First Published August 6, 2013 4:00 AM


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