Sharing too much Personal Information at Work : Protocol Consultants International

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Sharing too much Personal Information at Work

by Judith Bowman on 12/25/14

… the “Self” You Show to Whom?”

We spend more time with co-workers than members of our own family, therefore, it seems natural to tell them things about our personal life which also makes work more interesting and enjoyable.  While sharing some personal information is crucial to forging relationships, sharing too much personal information at work may damage your reputation and could kill your career.      


-           share personal problems! 

-           share information which reveals your weaknesses, particularly if you are in a management position or vying for a promotion requiring solid credentials, good judgment and people skills.

-          discuss your abusive husband, difficult divorce your depression issues.

 …  bragging about your drunken binges, problems with your kids and financial woes are also taboo; turn to friends and family for support. 

… and if you are looking for a new job, tell no one at work! 

Entrusting co-workers with very personal information places an unfair burden on them – you never know who you can really trust and for some, repeating information is just part of their nature; they’re not being malicious. 

Sharing news about a i.e. wedding, engagement, new grandchild, etc., are natural topics to share but sharing your pregnancy news for example, might not be a smart career move as there are many work-related ramifications.  

The office grapevine:  feeds information we would not otherwise know and is a necessary evil.  Paradoxically, people are naturally drawn toward negative aspects of other people’s lives and seem to feed on other people’s misfortune … “better them than I” attitude!   Hence the office grapevine exists.  A few rules:


-          listen to everything and verify information before passing it along

-          pass along only true information that won’t hurt others

-          Use the grapevine to take positive action or make decisions.  You can start posturing for the position you heard will open soon or looking for another job because you understand the company is being sold.  

And we all know those people who spread negative information in the most compassionate way…. i.e. ‘isn’t is a shame about poor Kim who’s been on for ten years and never had a date… I wish I could introduce her to someone.’  This amounts to little more than office gossip with a twist of   passive/aggressive behavior.

Maintain a level of professionalism and a few layers of privacy at work… they don’t need to know everything about you!  Less information is sometimes more. 

Remember: “If you want no one to know, tell no one!”  

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