News and advice on business etiquette – December 2014

How to decide whether to accept Facebook friend requests from colleagues. Plus, news on the upcoming Ben Affleck action-thriller The Accountant.

Q: Should I accept Facebook friend requests from colleagues?

A: If you have an account on the uber-popular social-media site, it’s almost guaranteed that someone in the office (your desk mate, manager, the receptionist) has sent you a "friend request." But should you give your coworkers full access to hundreds of pictures of your kids and gripes about your in-laws, commute and the subpar cafeteria at work?

Julie Blais Comeau, an etiquette expert and author in Ottawa, suggests trying what she calls "the two-fridge test" to gauge whether you want to share your online image with fellow employees. It works like this: "Take your future status update to cyberspace and mentally test-post your comment or photo on the two fridges of your life: your home and office fridges," she says. Start with your household fridge. "Your loved one, children and your grandparents may see it as they walk by or reach into the icebox for something. Are you OK with what they will see or read? If you aren’t sure, don’t post it on the Internet." If you are content with what you’re sharing, take your post from your home fridge and put it up on the fridge in the office kitchen. "Your top client and boss come into your eating area to get coffee. Are you still OK with what you posted?" If you’re not too keen on folks you work with reading your personal entries and photos meant for friends and family, steer clear of that friend request "accept" button.

— Lisa van de Geyn

Ben Affleck


Ben Affleck to star in The Accountant

You always knew accountants were superheroes. Soon your staff, colleagues and boss will know it too. Actor Ben Affleck, a.k.a. the caped crusader in the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, is expected to play the lead role in The Accountant, an action-thriller in which the "Treasury Department pursues a brilliant, autistic accountant who doubles as an assassin and ‘problem-solves’ with precision in more ways than one." Written by Bill Dubuque (who also penned this year’s Toronto International Film Festival opener, The Judge, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall), The Accountant has been a hot property in Hollywood since it appeared on the industry’s annual Black List of most anticipated screenplays in 2011. Blockbuster celebrities including Will Smith and Mel Gibson were formerly connected to the project, and others reportedly preapproved by the producers to star in the film were Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Wahlberg, Chris Pine and Benedict Cumberbatch.

— Tamar Satov


Have you considered accounting, dear?

The street cred the profession will enjoy once a Hollywood megastar portrays an accountant who moonlights as an assassin apparently can’t come soon enough. According to a Harris Poll that measures public regard for various occupations, just 6% of respondents say accountants have "a great deal of prestige" while 60% say the job has little or no prestige. Even more damning to the profession’s cool factor is this additional finding: a whopping 78% would encourage a child to become an accountant. An occupation only a mother could love? Say it isn’t so.

— TS