Office Communication: Get the Green Light Before You Divulge Personal Info
The very concept of office communication seems simple enough: Use your words, body language, actions and technological devices to convey to others your ideas, insights and thoughts regarding various issues that influence your job performance ability. Notice this definition of office communication does include the words beer, sex, tramp or bookie. We all experience times when we feel the barriers of professionalism fading away like those dance moves at last year’s holiday party, but remain vigilant about exactly where you are and with whom you are speaking. Many office professional see others’ lapses in judgment as permission to dive in and begin discussing their failed romantic relationships, bad business decisions and inexplicable bad luck with the police.
This article elaborates, “In a perfect world, an employee's relationship with his or her supervisor would be an affable yet respectful one based on trust, communication and a sense of working toward a common goal. But don't get too comfortable. Friendly workplace repartee is fine and all, but as a rule of thumb you should always think before you speak in the presence of an authority figure so as to not regret keeping your tongue leashed in your mouth.”
Remember that there is a hierarchy to office etiquette. The more power you have, the more you can get away with. Like it or not, it’s just fine for the CEO of your company to drop the f-bomb in a conference call or mention his expensive and acrimonious divorce in the middle of a meeting. That’s just the way it works. So don’t consider an outburst and secret reveled or an embarrassing anecdote from one of your superiors as an opening to vent your own frustrations about your personal or professional life.
Only divulge such information when asked directly by your superiors. These situations typically arise outside of the office at a happy hour, holiday party, team building exercise, weekend sail or golf outing. On such occasions it’s almost impossible to avoid conversations that cross the professional line. This is how networks are built, but it can’t be forced. Play by the rules until you are asked to step up and abide by the boundaries, or lack of boundaries, that define the lives of the higher-ups. It’s how many of them got there themselves.
Image courtesy of carl clasio.