January 18, 2012

over sharing at the office

To be an open book at work or not? To tell your colleague the details of your last medical procedure, your mother in-law's gambling problem or an inappropriate dream you keep having... What do you think, do these qualify as over sharing? Have a look at some more examples of things your colleagues probably don't want to hear from you:

Sharing a few details of your personal life (like the sports teams you love or your hobbies) is an essential part of building relationships with your colleagues. After all, we all find it easier to relate to someone with common interests or opinions. It's a great way to show that you are (also) human and that you are more than what your job title suggests.

Social media platforms are encouraging us to share every detail of our lives to the world. Are you doing the same at work? It might be a good idea to draw some kind of line for yourself to ensure you don't become known at the office for spilling too much (or inappropriate) information.

Let's have a look at some guidelines to keep your personal life (mostly) personal:
  • Train your brain: Take some time to evaluate and train your impulse to over share. Identify if you may be doing it to be liked or to get attention at work. You CAN say no to that impulse and you WILL still be liked even if you don't share every detail about yourself. Give it a try!
  • Friend vs colleague: Some colleagues are actually good friends so be sure to make this distinction before sharing. If John is my good friend and Joey is a pleasant colleague I get along with, it may be OK to tell John about an issue regarding my brother-in-law and Joey about how much I enjoyed the office year-end party.
  • Getting the job done: Are the personal details you share with colleagues affecting productivity by either distracting them or influencing their impression of your abilities? I wouldn't want to disrupt the flow of work with my shocking stories, or for my boss to doubt my focus because I am constantly talking about my personal problems.
  • Remember your personal brand: Ask anyone you know if they have an over-sharing colleague and see how quickly they identify him/her. Building a reputation at work for always sharing too much of your personal life may create the impression that you are unprofessional and this can actually hinder your career growth.

While showing your personality and interests is always a good idea, try thinking about ways in which you may be sharing too much at work. Have a look at these posts on the TMI (too much information) phenomenon and honesty vs. over-sharing - enjoy!

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