Mistake #7: Making It Personal


You love to talk, and you’ve got stories to tell. But is work the place to bond over personal dramas?

This is the seventh in the series 8 Mistakes Men Don’t Make. Making things personal is different than taking things personally. (We’ll get to that in #8.) Making it personal refers to the over-sharing and personal story telling we sometimes do at work. This can go further than anything else to destroy professionalism and credibility.

Why? Because a juicy personal story lasts a lot longer than even the biggest win on the toughest client.

It’s All About Relationships

The relationships you create at work are naturally based on some sort of hierarchy. I don’t care how flat your organization is, whether it’s a role or a project or a key task – someone is in charge. When you share too many personal stories at work, you nurture different kinds of relationships, ones that don’t have clear lines of authority attached.

Can you really expect the co-worker who listens to you vent about your awful ex at lunch to be as respectful when it’s time to meet a crucial deadline?  Your deadline? Be personable without making everything about a close personal relationship.

Can You Trust a Drama Queen?

We all have personal issues that can occasionally preoccupy our every waking moment – if we let them. When you share your awful stories, you’re sending a couple of different messages. First off, you’re basically saying that whatever is going on with you is more important than your job. Why else would  you be taking the time to tell everyone about it? If your cat’s chronic diarrhea is imposing on work time, you’ve paved the way for someone else to feel free chatting up the cube farm about her next big break up.

Secondly, sharing details that are overly personal about yourself or someone else tells others that you lack discretion. They start to wonder what kind of information you can be trusted with. Even if the situation is completely out of your control, talking about it is your choice. If you do you may be perceived as lacking good judgment.

Forge Business-Based Connections

It’s not just talking about illness and romantic troubles that can ruin your credibility. When you focus on creating connection through shared personal values or interests, you miss opportunities to pursue relationships that serve purely business reasons.

Focus on your business success and learn how to tell those stories.

Image Credit: orinzebest, Flickr