Merito Group receives questions every day from job seekers looking for advice to help improve their job search. For some, the question they have is “what do I keep doing wrong?” A lot of the time, it is merely a question of correcting certain behaviors in order to be successful. One behavior many are unaware of, is oversharing at work.
When you spend more hours with your colleagues than with your family, it may seem natural that you’ll get to know each other. But before you start divulging details about your personal life in an effort to connect with co-workers, beware. There’s a fine line between appropriate sharing and creating confidences that might kill your career through accidental oversharing.
Whether you’re a new grad preparing to start your first job or a seasoned industry veteran, the rules are the same when it comes to “TMI” in the workplace. Here are the types of information to never with co-workers:
Negative feelings about your job or colleagues
With social media just a click away, it can be tempting to vent about a bad day at work with your online network. But even if your profile settings are marked as “private,” it’s always a bad judgment call to fume either on Facebook or in person about negative feelings or experiences you have regarding your company, colleagues or job. Even if you think you’re couching terms with discretion, you’re best to save workplace opinions for your family and friends who are not connected with the office.
“You’ve heard the horror stories,” says Marilyn Santiesteban, assistant director of career services at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. “My best advice is not to post about your colleagues or any details of your work – especially if it is negative or might be confidential. Employers love positive staff posts, but it takes a while to determine what’s appropriate. If in doubt – don’t!”
Similarly, it may be tempting to share with your colleagues when you’re having a bad day. It is perfectly fine to seek support from your colleagues as they understand your struggles at work, but there is a fine line between seeking a pep talk and full on oversharing that you despise your job or hate a particular colleague. Just like with social media, it is best to keep these opinions strictly to people who are not associated with your office, not
Opinions that may cause controversy
While it may seem like a no-brainer to avoid discussing controversial topics like politics and religion at work, the importance of doing so can’t be overstated. Nothing good can come from discussions that create dissension among colleagues. Plus, in the worst-case scenario, saying something that offends someone else on these matters may lead to a lawsuit.
There’s an old adage that goes: ‘Do not share things that you would not want your mother, boss or priest to know,'” says Jenny Korn, Scholar of Online Identity at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Now, I would substitute parent for mother. The advice still stands, because it operates on not discussing things that might cause discord with a person that is in a position to judge one’s behavior, like a parent, boss or priest.”
Since your political stance on an issue might not match a colleague’s, raising the issue might affect work relations, Korn adds, and bringing up your choices regarding sexual intimacy could be construed as harassment.
To read further and for more helpful information on what not to discuss with your colleagues and maintain a professional relationship within the office, please read Robin Madell‘s fascinating article here.
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