Should I Politely Decline to Network by Internet?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about ex-coworker contact:

I recently received an e-invitation to connect with a ex-coworker.This co-worker and I entered the same workplace within months of each other but over time our building relationship deteriorated. I had a certain tasks for which I was responsible, but a few additional tasks were introduced which (due to workload constraints) I could not handle so she took a hold of those tasks. These tasks were always short lived projects however.

From time to time, the procedures I would need to follow to perform my tasks would need to be adjusted so I would go to my supervisor, I was assigned to and present the case. Sometimes, being my first job, I would ask my supervisor a hypothetical situation and get his views before I proceed to do something. At times, I would discuss one or two personal issues which may affect my work performance (only mentioned out of courtesy and I would close to door for privacy).

My co-worker grew cold against me when another co-worker was added to the department and would often return to this state only when that 2nd co-worker was around. He would propose an idea for something and he would get turned down but when I proposed an idea, it was at least considered. A day came when the supervisor called two of them into his office and I was thereafter accused of “tattling when the door was closed” and he was accused in not so many words of being “racial”.

Yes, I and the supervisor are of one race and the other two workers are of another race. My tipping point happened when I heard one of them (the ex) state something rather disturbing about being a person who holds on to things. “vengeful” is the word I believe was used. She is now working in a permanent job. (I am still in the training programme) This ex-coworker has now sent me an invite to connect on one of those professional networks and my question is, should I or shouldn’t I accept. Mind you, the second co-worker still works with me and both of them still keep in contact.

Signed, To Accept Or Not To Accept

Dear To Accept Or Not To Accept:

Unless you have reason to think there is a safety factor, it doesn’t seem that any harm could result from accepting the connection and it might be a good thing. Time changes views and opinions and even people who don’t like us can often overlook that most of the time. I am linked with several people who I was surprised wanted to do it, considering we were never very close and on occasion had ill feelings.

In one case, when I accepted I got a nice note back with very nice things about how he had learned to value me as he had advanced in his company. We don’t network or anything like that, I’m just one of many on his list, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to link, and it hasn’t. That may be the situation here as well. It could be she is just building her list and decided to add you. It doesn’t appear that any harm could come from accepting the invitation, but you know the situation best. Best wishes to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what you decided. Your thoughts and the results may be helpful to others.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.