I have a colleague at work who has sent me a friend request on Facebook, but I don't feel we're close enough for them to be seeing my personal posts, I'm not sure how they feel though, they could think we are.

I personally don't think Facebook is suitable for work relationships but much rather LinkedIn. I'm more than happy to connect with them on that, as we already are. I also just don't want to decline the friend request without an explanation.

How to politely (and professionally) decline the friend request without causing any animosity between us?

Note: They'll know if I have declined the request as we use the Facebook SDK in our job (mobile app development) which requires me to use Facebook throughout the day, so I would much rather explain than just decline. Also, it's a relatively small office so we speak on a daily basis.

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    Related: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/q/603/36
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 18:37
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    From Workplace: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/25826/…
    – Vylix
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 21:42
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    When I join a new workplace, I find everybody and preemptively block them all, lol
    – user2191
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 15:24
  • I'm pretty certain that declining the request doesn't cause a giant "DECLINED" message to appear on their facebook - I think they only get notified if you accept. Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 8:30
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    I know this is too late here, but in general it's best not to use personal FB or G+ accounts for development (for a number of reasons). Although as someone who has worked on mobile I know it can be tempting to just connect with your own account instead of setting up another one, or asking IT
    – Maxim
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 19:29

2 Answers 2


Let it be.

If friend requests come from people I don't really feel like sharing my personal photos and stuff with, I don't accept, I don't decline, I just ignore it.

They'll automatically become subscribers to my account, and by that, they'll be able to see my public posts, and not private ones. They can still send me messages when needed.

The sender will most likely understand that either I'm not checking my friend requests section, or I actually didn't want to accept it.

Anything other than this, that is, if I bring this up at work and tell them I'm sorry, I had to decline, I'm sure they'll feel put off by that.

Explaining why I declined would most likely be ruder than ignoring the request altogether.

It's best to let this fade away. Most people don't even remember the requests they have sent and won't bother stalking us.

And in the rare chance that they bring this up and ask me why I've not accepted it yet, I'll say something just like this:

Oh, I hadn't given it much thought. I usually add only my closest friends. I think we're already connected on LinkedIn, and that should keep us connected for now :)

  • +1 for a typically Indian, 'polite and subtly evasive' solution, @NVZ -- we prefer not to hurt or antagonise anybody, and the message is made very clear by consistently ignoring the friend request: the colleague will surely get the meaning without being hurt by an explicit rejection. Again the point is made politely but firmly by saying we're already connected on LinkedIn. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 13:53
  • Note 2:I am not active on Facebook myself but my friends and relatives who use it have said that (at least among Indians, but possibly elsewhere) the polite 'netiquette' is to ignore a friend request you don't want to accept, rather than actively decline it, for exactly the reasons stated by NVZ, @Bradley Wilson. It is apparently also etiquette/ netiquette not to ask why a friend request has not yet been accepted, but declining a friend request outright is itself considered rude here although ignoring it is acceptable. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 23:24

Alternatively, you can accept his friend request and put him on Restricted category.

Facebook has a built-in list to keep someone as friend, but only allow them to view your content that is shared publicly (same as someone who is not your friend), or if you tag them on the post.

Putting someone on the Restricted list means that you’re still friends, but that you only share your posts with them when you choose Public as the audience, or when you tag them in the post.

For example, if you're friends with your boss and you put them on your Restricted list, then post a photo and choose Friends as the audience, you aren’t sharing that photo with your boss, or anyone else on your Restricted list. However, if you tag your boss in the photo, or chose Public as the audience, they’ll be able to see the photo.

Facebook FAQ

To access this list, go to your Friend List and select Restricted as shown below.

Access Restricted list

You can then add names you want to "unfriend" by entering their names on the text field on the right of the screen.

Add names to Restricted list

Note that my list is empty because I prefer to ignore unknown requests to keep my friend list from clutters.

Alternatively, you can put the individuals on Restricted list from their profile page (or expanded card when you hover over their name anywhere) by clicking on drop-down menu of "Friends" and selecting "Add to another list", then select "Restricted".

Alternative add to Restricted list

Use this method if you only need to add few names. If you need to add several names at once, it is faster to use the first method.

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    I know you asked 'how to politely decline a friend request', @Bradley Wilson, but this is a good 'compromise method' introduced by facebook for those friend requests you cannot decline -- the beauty of it is that your 'distant acquaintance' in the 'restricted' category cannot know his classification and thinks he is a 'friend' -- hence takes no offense at your declining his friend request -- but cannot view your personal posts that you mark 'for friends only' -- so you too get what you want. Note that 'close friend', 'acquaintance' and 'restricted' are apparently different settings on FB. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:01
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    @EnglishStudent the most useful example is boss, but it works for anyone you want to silently unfriend, or requests that you should accept (like in this case), but obviously not planning to let them enter the "friends" circle.
    – Vylix
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:11
  • Yes indeed: no need to decline his friend request and hurt/ antagonize him when you can make him a friend and silently 'restrict' access: this perceptively advanced 'interpersonal tact' and diplomacy is part of what has made FB the world's no:1 social network, @Vylix. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:15
  • @Bradley Wilson -- Vylix's solution has been referenced in this article titled 'How to Politely Reject a Facebook Friend Request' by Richie Frieman, Modern Manners Guy at Quick and Dirty Tips website: "One easy way to deal with an unwanted friend request is to actually go ahead and accept the person but block them from seeing your updates (...) That way they aren’t gaining a lot of access to your profile and you’ve saved them from rejection." Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 23:40

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