Friending a Foe?

I had an “arch-enemy” in one of my previous roles. I loathed working with him, he probably hated working with me just as much, and it was an unfriendly deal all around. I’m fairly easy to get along with, I think at least, but I admit that I have absolutely zero patience for incompetence.

And “Doug” was nothing if not incompetent – but what really severed any possibility of working together smoothly, was his response to mistakes. I can overlook errors, brush past dropped balls, and even down-right incompetence. But what I cannot handle, is when someone doesn’t take responsibility for a situation and make it right.

We are all human, we all make mistakes – I make them all of the time. But I own up to them, fix them, and move on. But Doug – ugh, he refused.

His team dropped a BIG ball with an employee training program – he forgot to confirm the details, so our room was double-booked, over-enrolled, and the trainer was a no-show. Oh, and this was a training for senior leaders. Can you just imagine my reaction?

Bottom line – from that moment on, we weren’t friends. Higher ups got involved, managers took sides (ahem – his manager took MY side), we created several workarounds, and it wasn’t pretty.

Um, what? Why are you friending an enemy?

So you can imagine my surprise (ok, my eyebrows raised higher on my forehead than ever before), when I received a LinkedIn friend request from him.

I know that LinkedIn suggests people for you to add to your network. And I have to admit that there have been several people that have been suggested that I may have had a run in or two with (me, I know – you are shocked!). But that’s why they are suggestions – not automatically friended.

When would you friend a foe?

I firmly don’t believe in collecting friends for the sake of adding connections. So if you are planning to friend a foe, it better be for a good reason.

  1. You want to make amends. I’m all for repairing relationships and moving on. If this is behind you reaching out, you need to make your intentions clear. In your friend request, delete the pre-populated LinkedIn message and add a mea culpa in there instead. That will put the receiver at ease and turn the heat down on any residual ill-will.

Yep, that ends my list. I wanted to provide you five reasons to friend a foe, but honestly, if it’s not to create a better impression or mend fences, then skip it! When you add someone as a connection, they become “open season” for future hiring managers and recruiters to associate you with. And you don’t want your foe to be a “trudged up” reference for you, or gasp, someone who you are associated with. So unless you clear the air, nothing good can come out of it.

When Doug recently friended me on LinkedIn without any additional information included, it left me dumbfounded. Buddy – do you not remember the drama you caused? Why in the world would I want you back in the sphere of my life? Yeah, connection requested denied.