Beware of the Overshare

by Levit, Alexandra Friday, May 20, 2011
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I’ve noticed a workplace trend lately – the overshare. It seems that people work so much that they consider colleagues like close friends or family members. And when they’re diagnosed with a long-term condition with an acronym like PSTD or ADHD or become pregnant (for example) it’s the most natural thing in the world to tell officemates immediately.

My advice is to think twice about this. Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure your manager and co-workers care about you. But the truth is, their first priority is to the work that needs to get done, and even if you are personally convinced that your affliction will not affect your ability to perform, they may begin to unconsciously doubt you as a result of receiving this extra information.

Even non-medical disclosures might undermine your reputation and cause you unnecessary headaches. For instance, last year, a piece I wrote on coming out at work was much more controversial than I expected – sadly, a lot of work environments are still hostile to openly gay employees.

Bottom line: just be discreet. If your medical condition or lifestyle choice truly doesn’t impact your job, then people at work shouldn’t need to know about it. If you must share out of necessity or because it’s causing you too much stress to maintain complete secrecy, then keep your circle of informants small and limited to people you really trust.