Let’s talk about the fine line we walk with our bosses.
With social media and longer hours than ever spent at the office, it can be hard to navigate the office-appropriate waters and hard to miss the relationship-damaging land mines. In my second syndicated article from CareerContessa, I talked about the boundaries to watch when it comes to your boss. Read the full article in its original format here.
4 BOUNDARIES YOU SHOULD NEVER CROSS WITH YOUR BOSS
IT’S NOT EXACTLY A FORMAL WORLD OUT THERE ANYMORE SO HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE TREADING DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO OVERSHARING?
We get it—you want to have a personal connection with your boss. I mean, you practically spend more time with her than with your significant other, and communal lunch would be pretty miserable without a few ‘What did you do last weekend?’ stories thrown in there. But how much should your boss know the ins and outs of your life?
Let’s consider the basic tenets of navigating the formal/informal divide.
DO THESE AS OFTEN AS YOU WANT
- Do share with your boss your interests or hobbies. These are the things that make you unique and bring diversity into your workplace. That being said, hold off on explaining what a great workout pole dancing is or how much you enjoyed 50 Shades of Grey until you get a better feel for your boss.
- General information about your family, pets, or relationship can also be shared, especially when prompted by your boss. Your boss might be curious to know where your parents raised you, how long you have been married for, or what type of dog food you most recommend. The key thing here is to offer general information and wait for your boss to probe further.
- The serious stuff that will affect your work is must share. If your grandfather’s illness, a recent breakup with your S.O., or your teenager’s rebellious phase are keeping you from focusing on your work, then you need to speak up. You will only be doing a disservice to your boss, your company, and yourself if you don’t ask for help when you need it. When you are ready, be sure to schedule one-on-one time with your boss and avoid word-vomiting personal problems by coming prepared with a few helpful solutions. Maybe it is time to cash in on some PTO, try a stint of working from home, or see if another colleague would be better suited to take on some of your workload.
DO NOT DO THESE ON ANY ACCOUNT
- One thing your boss doesn’t need to know about is your weekend of partying. Keep those details to yourself. Here is a good gauge: if you wouldn’t tell your mother-in-law about it, don’t tell your boss either.
- Office gossip about your coworkers does not need to go from your lips to your boss’ ears. If you have something that needs to be discussed or addressed with your boss, then make a clear statement during an appropriate time.
- Unless you work within these sectors, your religious or political preference does not need to be established at the workplace. This tip is especially relevant as we are in the midst of a media-frenzied Presidential election, so keep your thoughts about Trump’s tan to yourself.
- No one appreciates drama at work so leave petty problems with your partner, parents, or roommate at home. You are here to complete your work and maintain a positive attitude, so check the he-said-she-said drama at the door.
Although you may be reading this thinking, “Why should I shy away from sharing my political philosophies, my everyday, real-life problems, or my religious preference?” please keep in mind that you are laying the foundation a professional relationship, not a personal friendship. In the end, follow your boss’ lead, he or she will make it clear how personal and open you should be. So start with the small stuff and the layers will peel away with time.
What tips do you have when toeing the line between sharing too much or too little in the workplace? Let us know below.