The Case of the Extremely Online Colleagues
I work for a social media agency where everyone is extremely online and curious. I’ve worked at the agency for roughly a half-year, and it’s been great. But there’s now a pressure as people are getting to know me better: There are requests to follow and follow back co-workers on social media, specifically on Twitter. While everyone is lovely, we all have our own philosophies of who we follow and why. I follow few people and pride myself on keeping my follow count low.
Is it rude to not follow people you work with? How can you thoughtfully and gracefully demur?
— Anonymous, California
This is a very modern problem, but the solution is relatively simple. I love boundaries, especially when it comes to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It is not rude to not follow people you work with. You can simply say you don’t want to blur the lines, so you don’t follow colleagues from your personal social media accounts. If the pressure is intense, create a finsta where you can be yourself and allow your colleagues to follow a “professional” personal account. You don’t owe anyone more information about your life than you are willing to share. Hold the line.
Ready to Climb
I joined my organization at a supervisory level a couple of years ago. My boss, the executive director, will retire in the next two to three years. For the first time, I am ambitious, and I want his job. I’m ready, and I’d be good at it. I get excellent reviews, I have good ideas and energy, and I have good relationships. But I feel inadequate in ways that feel significant. Our workplace is relatively formal, and the executives have been older, wealthy, white men who wear suits and ties, and are poised and strong public speakers. In comparison, I feel kind of goofy. I’m an anxious public speaker, and because this is the first well-paying job of my career, my wardrobe has a long way to catch up. How do I address or overcome these insecurities? And do I tell my boss I want his job? I still have lots to learn from him, and I don’t want to seem like I’m pushing him out the door. But I want his support, if he’ll give it to me, to move up when he leaves.
— Anonymous, California
Slow down there, friend. I love your ambition and your confidence. And the things you’re insecure about can be addressed. Build your wardrobe, as your budget allows, by selecting timeless, well-made pieces. It’s better to spend more on one or two good suits than less on several cheap suits or ensembles.
Public speaking is terrifying. I still struggle with it, too. But there are classes you can take. The internet has all kinds of advice on overcoming this anxiety. If you’re particularly motivated, put yourself in professional situations where you have to speak. Because in addition to whatever training you might try, practice really will help you improve those skills.