Dear Barb—Over Shared

Dear Barb:

I recently began working in a medical office.  It is not a large office; 10 women and two men work here.  When I started, I really liked the people and the atmosphere, however things have changed.  I felt so comfortable that I shared a lot of personal details with some of the girls, but now I’m regretting that decision.  At the time I was going through a messy divorce and needed someone to share with and I thought these were people I could trust, but I guess not.  It seems the few people I did share my situation with have told others in the office and even my boss.  I didn’t want everyone to know that my ex was abusive.  People seem to be sympathetic, but I don’t want sympathy, I just want this part of my life to be behind me, but it doesn’t seem that I can do that now.  I almost feel like I need to find another job.  Did I make a bad decision or are most offices like this?  I have been out of the work world for a few years and possibly things have changed a lot.  Should I just move on and consider this a lesson learned?  Thanks Gillian.

Hi Gillian:

The world has changed with the introduction of social media.  People are comfortable sharing much more information than they were in the past.  It is best to pick and choose what you share in the workplace and on social media.  Everyone is not always sympathetic to your situation and you might not like what is done with what you share.  If you want to put this part of your life behind you, then it’s best to not openly discuss it.  Having boundaries is important.  Choose to share with close personal friends rather than coworkers.  At times these lines get blurred as coworkers can become close personal friends, at that time you may choose to share more information with them, but do so only when you know that person will respect your privacy.  Even if everyone else in the office shares personal information, you are not required to.

Before sharing personal information ask yourself the following questions, which were reported in a New York Times article about sharing too much information in the work place.

  • Who’s listening to me (a boss, a client, a colleague or a friend)?
  • Why am I sharing this? What’s the point?
  • In this situation, would less be better?
  • Have I left my emotional baggage outside the door?
  • Does what I am sharing benefit my career or the quality of my work relationships?

I believe you will be able to put this situation behind you and move forward.  Best of luck Gillian, hope I was helpful.

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