Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Blurry Lines

I’ve always been a very sociable person. The agency business is a very sociable industry. I remember as a young pup, working at Fallon, being wowed that people at the office dated, people ended up getting married and working on the same account, people were roommates and the idea of getting together after work for drinks was common place. Yes, there were even some “inappropriate” comments and jokes made after several beers. Colleagues attended each others events, rooted for each other, and genuinely took pleasure in connecting with each other outside of work. There’s was a sense of comradery and a general comfort level with a blurring of the lines. We worked hard and played hard.

Unfortunately, in today’s hyper cover your ass and politically correct world the lines between colleague and friend have become a problem. Have drinks too often with the same person and all of a sudden you’re dating them…and people start talking about you. Go to too nice of a restaurant with a co-worker and you might get scolded because it might be sending the wrong message. It’s a bummer. We’ve evolved from interacting with one another like humans to having to interact with each other like robots.

Recently, it was suggested to me that I de-friend, on facebook, all the people I work with. At first I scoffed at the idea. But, then a few events at the office caused me to change my mind. It’s an unfortunate situation. There are people I work with, that I manage, who I genuinely enjoy spending time with…that I enjoy grabbing a beer with or watching a ball game with. But, now I’ve had to re-evaluate how I’d handle those situations when they arise. It’s a change and an adjustment that I wish I didn’t have to make. But, changing times, a new generation entering the workforce and a focus on mitigating risk have made it a reality.

I’d love to know how you’re handling this new reality, because I’m struggling with how to evolve as the industry is evolving.

  • Facebook groups and security settings are a beautiful thing. Use them. Separate coworkers from friends, separate friends from family; hell, separate the crazy family from the fun relatives. And no matter what, have a brain about what you post. To take a lesson from the PR world: there is no such thing as off the record. No matter how many groups you have or firewalls you set up, if you don't want it repeated, don't post it. ANYWHERE.

  • I agree. It's a reality that people from work are going to add you. For the longest time, I would just let requests pile up. I don't want to imply that I was popular or anything, but when you work at a large agency you tend to meet and work with a lot of people.

    I set up a “Work” list that only allowed access to certain sections of Facebook. If the nature of my friendship changed to the point where I would hang out with them outside of work and was comfortable, I'd migrate people to my normal friends list. It's a bit high-maintenance, but it's a way to impact who sees what as much as you can.

    I think this would be much more difficult in a situation where you're directly managing others, however.