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OMG! TMI! Avoiding Oversharing in the Workplace

Posted August 24, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder
Maybe it’s a generational expression, but at this point it’s pretty safe to say everyone knows what you mean when you look at someone and exclaim “TMI!” Too. Much. Information. Whether it’s your best friend telling you a few too many details about her hot date last night or someone in your office regaling you with stories of his child’s flu, you always know when a situation or a conversation becomes TMI!

Peggy Klaus from The New York Times writes about how this societal TMI issue has now crossed over into the workplace in “Thank You for Sharing, But Why at the Office?” From coworkers talking about drunken nights at the water cooler to full stories of births and placentas, Ms. Klaus is right – the office has become full of TMI stories we all wish we hadn’t heard.

Peggy encourages us to ask a few key questions before sharing a story in the office:

• Who’s listening to me (a boss, a client, a colleague or a friend)?

• Why am I sharing this? What’s the point?

• In this situation, would less be better?

• Have I left my emotional baggage outside the door?

• Does what I am sharing benefit my career or the quality of my work relationships?

In addition to these, I’d recommend considering the following:

  • Would I want the whole office to hear this? Chances are, the person you’re telling will tell someone else and so on and so forth.
  • Take into consideration the 24 hour rule. After something happens, wait 24 hours to talk about it to coworkers. You might change your mind in that time.
  • Is this person your friend? No, really. Think again. You might think the person in the cube next to you is your BFF today. But wait until you leave or she leaves. They might not be so loyal with your stories later on.

The moral of the story? Keep your stories moral! Or at least out of the office.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."