A significant portion of your life is spent at work. Your colleagues around you can become very close, and the office may start to feel like a home away from home. However, it’s easy for these relationships to twist and your healthy boundaries to become blurred. There is a fine line between being closed off and quiet to being known as the office gossip. For different roles, you may have to share significantly less because you’re overseeing others and need to keep a professional stature. At the same time, you’re still human with real, vulnerable experiences. If you’re just starting out as an expert or perhaps experiencing some increased stress in your life, we’ll help you learn how to keep our personal life out of the workplace.
Identify what is okay to speak about and what isn’t, according to your own personal opinion and by HR’s standards. Some topics are incredibly inappropriate to speak of while at work, even if it is with certain coworkers. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is if you feel uncomfortable sharing something with one person at work, it should be off-limits to everyone. Gossip within the workplace is never fun to be involved in, especially when you are the hot topic. Once you have these boundaries, stick with them!
Most working people have a family they see every day, and it’s totally okay to delve into that! If you feel comfortable, speak about your children. You can talk about how many children you have, their ages, what grade they’re in, and other interests of theirs. If you have a partner, it’s acceptable to throw them into the conversation too. Describe some of the positive characteristics of theirs you admire. Do you have any fun activities you do as a family? Elaborate on them! If you feel more reserved about your family, you can always speak about your own interests. These can be what aspects of work you enjoy or what you partake in on the weekends. Never feel the need to give more information than you’re willing, but there isn’t anything wrong with telling someone about yourself. Think about it as providing a few personal fun facts. Here’s an example if a new coworker asks to learn more about you.
Example: Hi, Joanne! I’d consider myself a family person. I’m married to my partner, and we have two children, ages 8 and 10. One plays baseball, and the other enjoys music. We’ve set him up with the flute, and he loves it. I’m more of a sports person myself, but I’ve learned a lot from his interest in the arts.
While at work, it’s essential to keep the mood light and productive. If you’re having a bad day because something is going on at home, try your best to keep your coworkers out of it. On a typical day, some topics should be kept off the table. For example, it’s never tasteful to complain about your significant other or go into detail about your dating life. Another bad idea would be to talk about any inappropriate physical issues or symptoms you’ve been going through. Though everything is within reason. If you’re experiencing a home or medical emergency, you should be able to confide in your superior and take time off you need. Again, these examples are for a typical day at work.
BAD Example: My partner is constantly complaining all the time, and I can’t stand it. Half the time, I’m working late just so I don’t have to go home! (DON’T DO THIS).
Everyone is dealing with stress or something negative in their lives. You don’t hear everyone speaking of their troubles at work because it’s not the time or place to do so. When at work, employees are there to get their job done. By speaking of inappropriate topics, you could drag them down, distract them from their work and yours, and also possibly change their opinion of you. Making sure you’re including self-care into your daily routine and maintaining coping mechanisms that work for you. This decreases the likelihood of wanting to speak about your issues at work.
An essential part of keeping home life at home is being able to get things that are stressing you out, off your chest. Bottling emotions up is proven to be very unhealthy and could lead to a breakdown. The last place you want this to happen is at work, so the best-case scenario is to avoid that at all costs. Luckily, there are three groups of people you can talk to who will be able to help. These are your family, friends, and professionals. If you’re having an issue with a friend or family member, speak to your partner.
On the other hand, if you’re having problems with your partner, speak to a friend! When these options don’t work for you, or you’re looking for long-term help, try looking into professional assistance. It’s a beneficial process that can lead you towards healing. If you’re looking for something quick, there are numerous hotlines available. In the end, there really is no need to confide in a coworker or superior. Use the resources around you, and you’ll be able to keep your personal life personal.
What better way to not talk about your personal life than to focus on the task at hand? When everyone is busy, no one has the time to ask you questions about what you did over the weekend or any other life updates. Simply put, if you want to remain more private, concentrate conversations within the workplace around your work. Make your job or assignment the center of the conversation – you won’t have to worry about if you’re saying too much or too little about yourself. There are still ways your coworker can learn more about your personality through work-related conversations. No one can be reserved all the time, but keeping your personal life out of the workplace is essential to a productive environment.