Talking about personal life at work is tricky and more nuanced than people might want you to believe.
I noticed that many people agree that it is not ok to open up with your coworkers, and they have their reasons but at the same time, most people are not really good at opening up with anyone, no matter if they are coworkers, best friends or even parents in some cases.
For that reason, in this article, I want to talk about the pros and cons of opening up and talking about personal life with coworkers since there are not only cons to this.
Should you talk about your personal life at work?
Yes, the relationship with coworkers is like any other relationship, and talking about personal life strengthens it. However, I see opening up and talking about personal life more like a scale than a binary thing. You should not talk about your personal life with your coworkers as much as you would talk with your spouse or parents, but at the same time, you should not hide it completely.
How much you can talk about your personal life with your coworkers can also change over time when you get to know and trust each other more and more.
Talking about your personal life doesn’t have to mean that you should talk about the most sensitive family topics in your life. It can simply mean that you are open to talk how you like to spend time on vacations with your friends or family.
So, you should be adaptable and consider how much you can talk about your personal life with each person, it may vary even from one coworker to another based on trust and so on.
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Should you ask colleagues about their personal life?
If your coworkers are not opening up about their personal life, you should not ask about that. At work, you are circumstantial friends rather than real friends, so if they don’t feel like getting personal with you, take it as a sign and don’t cross that boundary.
If you already talked with someone about your personal life and they reciprocated, you can ask them more personal questions but even then, make sure you are not overdoing it and also don’t go too personal.
Pros and cons of talking about personal life at work
As I said, talking about personal life at work is not just good or bad, but rather has some pros and cons and varies from person to person.
In some circumstances, you might have just the pros for talking about personal life, but in others, you might have just the cons, so you should judge every situation differently.
-More enjoyable time at work
When you have only surface-level discussions with coworkers, you feel like wasting time talking. When you get a bit more personal, you start to feel more like you are talking with friends, making the discussions more enjoyable.
In my opinion, coworkers are a bit closer than acquaintances since we spend way more time together, so having only small talks with them will be annoying over time.
-More topics to discuss
There are certain types of work that allow you to talk more with coworkers, if that is the case, you will consume pretty fast all the topics that you can discuss if you don’t want to talk a bit about your personal life and experiences.
You can be quiet and don’t talk at all, but some talkative people will like to have more topics to discuss and for those talking about their personal life, it might be better than talking about the weather or gossiping about other coworkers all the time.
-You get closer to your coworkers
That means that we might lose friends as we get older if we don’t make any new friends and for some people the best place to make new friends might be the workplace.
So while not everybody has to get closer to their coworkers, there are many cases in which the coworkers become actual friends over time.
-Easier time getting days off
When your coworkers know a few things about your personal life, they will know and understand when you really need a few days off, and most likely, they will accept to cover for you.
-You become vulnerable
This is the biggest downside when it comes to opening up with anybody, not only coworkers, if you go too personal, some people might take advantage of that and make you feel bad or even manipulate you with the information they have.
I have an entire article about vulnerability being a strength or a weakness that you should check since I will not get into all the details here.
While this might sounds awful, the important thing to know is that not many people are like that, and the ones that are will find a way to hurt you even if you are not getting personal.
-You can become annoying to your coworkers
You have to consider that those people are not there for you, so they haven’t chosen you as a friend and are willing to listen to your personal life stories.
Some people might be overly polite and pretend they are interested when they actually don’t care at all, but they don’t want to upset you since you will be there for a long time, and they can’t easily avoid you.
Make sure you pay more attention to people around you and see if they engage with what you are saying or are just polite.
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Talking about personal life at work can have some advantages but also some disadvantages. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magical formula that will help you understand how much you should talk about your personal life and with whom, but it certainly varies from person to person.
In my experience, fewer things make you vulnerable than people might want to believe. I know people who will not tell you their birthday to avoid vulnerability, and I believe that’s a free ticket to lower-quality relationships and friendships.