We’ve all had these moments – wishing we could “unfriend” one of our Facebook friends.
But then we move on, because you can’t drop a friend without hurting his or her feelings, right?
Wrong. There are healthy ways to unfriend on Facebook so that it’s a positive experience for you and the person being unfriended. Indeed, “unfriending” situations are opportunities that you should embrace rather than avoid.
Consider these graceful ways to have these critical conversations:
1. Share your reasons for “editing” your friends list, focusing on you. I know, this sounds like that Seinfeld episode, where George talks about his gambit to get out of relationships: “It’s not you. It’s me.” But it’s actually very important for you to focus on your reasons for wanting to drop this relationship, honestly expressing it as your need and in such terms. A friend of mine once was unfriended when his friend decided that she was pruning her Facebook friends list to include only mothers of young children like her. Yes, she was being exclusionary, but it really wasn’t personal – my friend didn’t fit her new focus. And indeed, he wasn’t all that hurt, perhaps because everyone can relate to the desire to hone their information streams nowadays. Thus thinking about your “editorial vision” for your Facebook activity helps you – and your friends.
2. Redirect the “friend” to another of your online networks. Some Facebook “friends” bother us simply because they’re connecting to us in the wrong social media space. The classic case is the boss or work colleague who really should be in a more professional/career-focused hub like LinkedIn. Redirecting these kinds of connections to more appropriate online communities is actually a fantastic conversation, positive for all. You’re sharing that you appreciate these “friends” as key to your professional life, and you want to introduce them to other such valuable contacts in your life. Who doesn’t want to hear that?
3. Designate the “friend” as a special offline connection. Are Facebook controls just not enough for that special “friend” to whom you have certain obligations? That’s right, I’m talking about your mother. If you don’t want her or other family members as Facebook friends, go ahead and unfriend, but be sure to make it clear how you’ll remain connected, perhaps by setting up your next in-person meetup or phone call. And then there are those people that we like but don’t know how to behave on Facebook. That childhood pal who simply can’t resist political or religious ranting or sharing embarrassing tales from your past? Take him or her offline, too, saying that you’d like to keep your relationship in a more intimate, one-to-one zone for now. Perhaps in time, and through your ongoing offline conversations, you’ll be able to bring this “unfriended” friend back into the fold.
Yes, there are always the easy outs of hiding or limiting visibility to updates, and it isn’t in every case that we want or need to have such heart-to-heart conversations. But “unfriending” dialogue can be rewarding and will demonstrate just how much you care to keep that “friend” in your life in some form.
Over the past 18 years, Kelly has successfully coached business leaders and people from all walks of life to reach their highest potential. With a Master’s in counseling, professional coach and mediation certifications, and 20 years of Human Resources experience, she has successfully helped others define their dreams and create pathways to success. She is the creator and owner of 1 Smart Life, LLC a new style of personal coaching with a team of experts in all of life’s challenging areas.