People like to call out “TMI!” when they would rather not hear about personal details. But seriously, who doesn’t share too much these days – and is expected to do so if they’re being “authentic” or “transparent”?
So we have the guy at work sharing the details of a child’s impending birth, complete with daily emails on how many centimeters his wife is dilated. The woman in the next cubicle isn’t shy about sharing the details of her divorce, including the fact that the sex had been great right up until the end.
It’s enough to make you reach for the headphones and have them permanently attached to your head. Yet, if you’re honest with yourself, haven’t you shared too much information with others at work?
We all spend a great deal of time on the job, so it’s natural that we let slip a few personal details. But making a habit of it can be a problem, especially if your private behavior begins to affect how others see you professionally. Seriously, do you really think people will look at you the same in a meeting once you reveal you’re having incontinence problems?
Here are some ways to stay friendly with the people at work without compromising your professional image:
Are there times when you do need to share personal details? Certainly.
For example, I know a woman who had breast cancer and wanted to battle it without anyone at work knowing. But soon the radiation treatments began to sap her energy, and her productivity at work dropped.
She realized she was hurting herself professionally by not sharing her medical condition. Some of her colleagues began hinting that she was becoming a slacker. She began to get odd looks when she would nearly fall asleep during meetings and when she declined happy hour invitations that she used to accept.
Finally, she told her colleagues that she was undergoing treatment and they were leaving her so exhausted that she often fought to stay awake at work. Colleagues immediately rallied around her. As soon as they noticed her becoming tired on the job, they would encourage to go rest and return when she felt better. Not only did this make her feel less stressed about her treatments, she says, but the compassion and support of her co-workers helped sustain her during a difficult time.
Remember, before sharing personal details about yourself at work, consider whether you want that information to be top of mind when it comes time for a teammate to consider whether you’re right for a big project. Privacy settings aren’t just for Facebook – you should also consider them for daily interactions on the job.