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The Personal vs. The Professional

To what extent is it possible to separate one’s private life from the personal one? I’ve been an avid supporter of separating the two since I started my first job at aged 17. Maybe it was my upbringing or the quiet observation from of youth, but oversharing with coworkers has always been non-negotiable for me.

That’s not to say that I’ve never crossed the line. My coworkers and I have had several laughs over our individual family experiences. We especially enjoy picking on the children during those conversations. We’ve also discussed healthcare issues and minor worries and concerns of the work day. But when it comes to intimate relationships or anything that would likely make my father turn in his grave, that’s where I draw the boundaries.

Maybe it’s because the dynamics at work are different. With family and close friends, you expect them to have your back, although I’ve been disappointed in that regard. Yet with coworkers, they do have a life beyond the workplace. They have their own friends and family to confide in, and that’s where things get tricky.

I’ve come to learn that it really is a small world. Somewhere along the line you run into someone that knows someone else, or heard about you from somebody. That’s where my choice to leave the personal behind comes from. Of course, anyone can spill the beans, including the closest to you, but at least you know where and to who the information was disseminated from. Not the case when you overshare with coworkers. There’s no telling who they know or talk to, whether innocently or connivingly, and it’s best to keep the personal to yourself so you can better manage the potential fallout spilling secrets can cause.

I enjoy sharing with coworkers. We’re women from diverse backgrounds and we learn a lot from one another, there’s no doubt about that, especially since we range in age from wide-eyed and vulnerable 20-somethings to 75-year-old life experts. Besides, there’s no better way to move on from the prior evening’s family squabbling or the children’s eccentricities than to have a good laugh with coworkers when the work day finally slows down.

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