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Shh! Keep your personal life private

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by on
in Workplace Communication

You know best about your boss, your co-workers and your workplace's culture, but, in general, don't talk about your personal life in the office when it's:

Unnecessary. Stop thinking that you "owe" it to the boss or your employer or your co-workers to let them know about something that's happening in your personal life "as soon as possible." You "owe" only to yourself and your family.

Example: Tell your boss about a family member's long-term illness when you have to start taking time off, not before. Otherwise, you may be seen as unavailable for special projects and promotions.

Unflattering. Colleagues will connect your actions outside the office with your ability to handle work assignments.

Examples: If you confess an extramarital affair, don't expect your colleagues to trust your ethics. If the boss hears that you have money trouble, you'll likely forfeit your chance at financial assignments.

Confidential. "Three can keep a secret if two are dead," said Benjamin Franklin, and truer words were never spoken. Don't tell anyone a deep, dark secret unless you're prepared for everyone—including your boss—to hear it through the grapevine. 

Of course, telling your boss or co-workers about a personal crisis enables them to support you. Example: Explaining that you have to miss work to take your ill mother to medical appointments will scuttle any speculation that you're job hunting. Ultimately, you have to weigh the risks of telling versus the benefits of doing so.

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