What Counts As 'Too Personal' When It Comes to Sharing Your Private Life With Coworkers?

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 13, 2024 at 12:13AM UTC

“Am I wrong for not wanting to discuss my personal life with my co-workers?” a Fairygodboss member wondered on the community feed recently.

“Months ago I had a co-worker bring up something personal that I had told her in front of our boss; however, the way it was said made this personal thing that was shared sound horrible (which it was not). Fast forward to the present day, I recently got engaged, and I have only shared this with two co-workers who have been supportive. Everyone else has been left in the dark, they have been hinting and trying to guess but I have shared NOTHING because I don't feel as though it's coming from a place of concern; it's most likely coming from ‘how else can we share this and make it sound like a bad thing?’”

It’s a tricky thing, sharing personal information at work. For some of us, it feels natural; others prefer to keep their personal lives and professional lives separate. Here’s what the Fairygodboss community had to say.

“There are people in our lives we can trust and people we cannot.”

“There are people in our lives we can trust and people we cannot,” one Fairygodboss member said. “There are toxic workplaces and healthy work environments. There is gossip, there is miscommunication, stabbing in the back and labeling. There are times our companies support us and times they do night. So the world turns.”

“Unless you have a great relationship with your coworkers, know your limits,” Eugene Weatherby agreed.

“It helps build rapport.”

On the other hand, others thought sharing at work was helpful in building a community.

“I don’t share a lot about my personal life, but I’ve learned that it helps build rapport and camaraderie,” one FGBer wrote. “I would think major life events are the ones to share because people find out anyway (i.e. the ring, baby bumps, or taking time off). Major events are news where people are generally excited for you, too. What’s there to gossip about or the big secret?”

“I had a coworker conceal certain major life events from some coworkers (including myself), such as his engagement and his baby,” another community member said. After eventually finding out that he shared the news with other coworkers and not me, I feel like our work relationship changed a little. I thought we were decent work friends...one that you’d share exciting news with, but I guess not. I kind of stopped sharing my personal life afterward since he obviously thought our work relationship was strictly business.”

“Certain personalities can use information and weaponize it.”

Still others cautioned against the dangers of others using personal information against you.

“During the obligatory office ‘social,’ I might give vague information or generalize,” one FGBer wrote. “I try not to give too many specifics. I guess I've worked with too many toxic people to know that certain personalities can use information and weaponize it.”

“Coworkers are NOT friends,” Susan added. “Keep healthy boundaries, and only share things you are comfortable having spread around.”

“Everyone is entitled to their privacy.”

Ultimately, it should be entirely up to you what you choose to share or keep private. 

“Everyone is entitled to their privacy, period,” Millie Mardahay wrote. 

“You decide when to share and when not to,” Nicola Banks agreed. “You set boundaries on what you want to share.”

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What do you think counts as "too personal" when it comes to talking about your personal life with coworkers? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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