When is close too close. What to share.

Work versus Play – the age-old conundrum! As we engage in the pursuit of work-life balance, conflict is inherent, and this conflict becomes even more evident when developing workplace relationships.

As managers and employees, we should be mindful of our primary goal in each setting: at home, with our family and friends, our purpose is to socialize and strengthen our personal relationships; at work, our purpose is to work.

But is it really that clearly defined?

Most business professionals would agree that managers should make the distinction: work at work, play at home. We have all heard that supervisors should refrain from socializing with their employees and vice versa.

But what if the team wants to get to know you? Which, of course, they do!

Our company has social events every 2-3 months, and every member of the team is invited to partake in the fun. I think we all use our common sense when developing relationships at work. We socialize, enjoy spending time together, but avoid sharing everything about every aspect of our lives. While some co-workers share more with each other than with their boss, as managers we try to keep some of the more intimate details to ourselves.

Keeping a bit of distance between your work life and your home life isn’t such a bad idea. I’m sure we have all experienced some of the negative consequences of not doing so. Manage your credibility and respect confidentiality and you will never find yourself in a bind.

From my experience in working with many supervisors and hiring managers over the years, the things to keep to yourself are simple. If you don’t mind the whole company knowing then you can tell it. But best to limit knowledge of your latest argument with your spouse or partner, or details of ailments or illnesses you or a family member have had. Stick to experiences your team has together and you won’t find yourself crossing any invisible lines.

It’s up to you to ultimately decide what you say, but always consider the consequences of your actions. Your choices affect the image you project. And, ultimately, your image is one of your most valuable assets.


~ Cheryl Nakamoto

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One response to “When is close too close. What to share.

  1. Great insight Cheryl. I wrote a blog post about this topic as well as I believe that work-life balance is about managing your to-do list, not your contact list. Since we change jobs so frequently now, going from friends to colleagues to friends will make your head spin if you’re also trying to go from personal to professional at the same time.
    Be productive and yourself – that’s who I want to work with!

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