Over the last three months, you’ve gotten close to “Suzanne” and enjoyed confiding in her. She’s shared personal stories with you. Suzanne’s become more than a coworker; you count on her as one of your best friends.
Last week, she took you out after work. She knew you were having a tough time personally and you let your guard down when she asked you questions. Driving home, you wondered if you’d shared too much.
You got your answer this morning. “Diana” came in to the break room when you were pouring a cup of coffee, said, “Oh you poor dear,” and then gave you a hug. You stood there stunned as she continued, and you realized she’d heard information from Suzanne.
Most of us have made the “overshare” mistake. And like toothpaste squeezed out of the tube, we can’t shove spoken words back into our mouth.
How close is “too” close? What boundaries do we need to maintain in the workplace?
What you share
Personal information flies through an office like a brush fire. Before you share personal information, consider not just “do I want this person to know this?”, but “how will I feel if this person shares what I’ve said with even one other person?” Does this mean you can’t open up? No. It only means you can’t expect what you’ve shared to be treated with greater confidentiality than you’ve given it yourself.
You may have an office BF (best friend). Occasionally, this can throw you into a compromising position in which your friend expects you to take her side if she has an issue with someone at work.
Further, others may have the perception, right or wrong, that you’ll take the side of those you personally click with. If this happens, anyone skirmishing with your BF can put a wall, with you on the other side.
What does this mean in real terms? If you have a work BF, keep most of your BFing outside the workplace.
Sometimes you want to share personal information on Facebook or other social media. If you’re friends with others from work, what you post can backfire, and even be given to your boss. Depending on how you like to use Facebook, Twitter or other social media, it may be safest not to friend those you work with.
He’s interested…but you’re not
One of the men in your office had lunch with you twice last month. Now, he’s texting you, asking you how you are, and wanting to chat. You realize he possibly wants to be friends, but you sense a subtext. And he’s married.
Your gut has already spoken. Back off now. Work friends discuss their boss, politics, and hobbies, not their marriages. It’s time to let him know you’ve don’t have time to text.
How close is too close? That depends on the risks you’re willing to take. Once you cross a boundary, you’ve entered a new zone, with all the consequences.