Author Topic: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?- UPDATE #28  (Read 3200 times)

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MissRose

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2011, 02:03:31 PM »
Sometimes I over hear more than I want to know about some of my co-workers :o ::) especially some of them who spend time talking to others about certain things or talking on their cell phones on the floor.

I try not to say too much about my personal life stuff in the office.

Brentwood

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2011, 02:07:53 PM »
My staff members and I have always been pretty open and friendly with each other, but I do admit that I've told them nothing about my pending divorce.

Midnight Kitty

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2011, 03:34:29 PM »
I've told them nothing about my pending divorce.
(((HUGS))) I don't stalk you on this board and this is the first I heard of this development.  I'm sorry to hear.  Whether it is your choice or something that is happening to you, it's an unpleasant event.  I hope it all works out for you in the end. :-*
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bansidhe

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2011, 04:28:50 PM »
I realized for me, that if I know nothing about a coworker, I don't really trust them. I guess that would be true for most people. I don't immediately trust people I don't know. Not to say that they are not a good coworker, or can't do a good job, just that I personally don't know if they are someone I can trust or not. Also, with the other three therapists, I can immediately tell a client if that therapist would be a good fit for them or not. With her, I literally have no idea.

In your situation, I would feel the same way you do. While I realize that some people aren't comfortable sharing details about their personal lives, I have an immediate distrust of people who are secretive. I just can't help it. In your case, it sounds like the new therapist's behavior may end up having an impact on her work if it's important for you to know which clients are the best fit for her.

Fortunately for me, I've never worked in an environment in which people didn't freely share information about themselves. Also fortunately, we've always drawn the line at scrabble-related details about our personal lives because that's just...no. General scrabble-related topics are fine, however.

At my current job and the one before that, politics were also fair game in my immediate department, as we are/were all of the same political persuasion.
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whiterose

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2011, 08:10:11 PM »
Depends on the co-worker.

Depends on the workplace. Colleagues at a small library branch will know more than colleagues at a retail store where I am a cashier.

I do not mind sharing most things. I do not mind it when people share. I like hearing pet stories so that I can bring gifts for the pets :)
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camlan

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2011, 09:44:21 PM »

But surely there is a way, other than the new co-worker revealing more of her private life than she is comfortable with, to find out which clients are a good match for her? The OP could work out a list of a few questions, relating strictly to matching clients with staff, and ask the new co-worker just those questions. I guess I'm not seeing why you would need to know a co-worker's private life to do a business related function.

And bansidhe, you bring up another good point, when you mention that your entire office shares the same political view. What if this new co-worker realized, during her first few days on the job, that she *doesn't* share a common viewpoint that the rest of the staff share, be that politics, religion, views on having/not having children, or something else? Her reticence may be to avoid having awkward conversations where she has to defend her point of view.

I'm wondering if the new CW isn't shy or introverted or both. As someone who is both, that invitation to join a group of seven co-workers would scare me. These days, I've learned enough coping techniques that I could enter the room and join in the conversation, while hiding just how uncomfortable the whole thing was making me feel. But 20 years ago? I'd have made up any excuse to avoid having to join the group, due to the extreme discomfort I'd be feeling in dealing with such a large group of people I didn't know very well. An invitation to lunch with one or two co-workers? Fine. Dealing with all seven of them face to face all at once? Almost a state of panic.

I've been thinking about this since I read the first post. Coming at this from the point of view of someone who does not like to share too much personal information in the work place, I'd be suspicious of a new co-worker who shared a lot, right off the bat. I'd be wondering why they were sharing personal info with someone they didn't know, before they had worked out the politics of the workplace and who it was safe to share info with and who it was not. I'd see it as trying to create a false intimacy where there was none, and where intimacy needs to grow gradually, as people get to know one another. Yes, there's general info that most people will share--are they married, do they have kids. When I lived in Connecticut, which has no professional baseball team, a big issue was, do you cheer for the Yankees in NY or the Red Sox in Massachusetts? But really personal stuff? I would have to wait until I knew I could trust someone.
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kareng57

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2011, 09:51:23 PM »

But surely there is a way, other than the new co-worker revealing more of her private life than she is comfortable with, to find out which clients are a good match for her? The OP could work out a list of a few questions, relating strictly to matching clients with staff, and ask the new co-worker just those questions. I guess I'm not seeing why you would need to know a co-worker's private life to do a business related function.

And bansidhe, you bring up another good point, when you mention that your entire office shares the same political view. What if this new co-worker realized, during her first few days on the job, that she *doesn't* share a common viewpoint that the rest of the staff share, be that politics, religion, views on having/not having children, or something else? Her reticence may be to avoid having awkward conversations where she has to defend her point of view.

I'm wondering if the new CW isn't shy or introverted or both. As someone who is both, that invitation to join a group of seven co-workers would scare me. These days, I've learned enough coping techniques that I could enter the room and join in the conversation, while hiding just how uncomfortable the whole thing was making me feel. But 20 years ago? I'd have made up any excuse to avoid having to join the group, due to the extreme discomfort I'd be feeling in dealing with such a large group of people I didn't know very well. An invitation to lunch with one or two co-workers? Fine. Dealing with all seven of them face to face all at once? Almost a state of panic.

I've been thinking about this since I read the first post. Coming at this from the point of view of someone who does not like to share too much personal information in the work place, I'd be suspicious of a new co-worker who shared a lot, right off the bat. I'd be wondering why they were sharing personal info with someone they didn't know, before they had worked out the politics of the workplace and who it was safe to share info with and who it was not. I'd see it as trying to create a false intimacy where there was none, and where intimacy needs to grow gradually, as people get to know one another. Yes, there's general info that most people will share--are they married, do they have kids. When I lived in Connecticut, which has no professional baseball team, a big issue was, do you cheer for the Yankees in NY or the Red Sox in Massachusetts? But really personal stuff? I would have to wait until I knew I could trust someone.


I'm with you.  If it's quite a gossipy-workplace (of course the OP doesn't indicate that it is, but in many instances that's the case) - any info a new employee provides could come back to bite him/her.  Even if the new workplace isn't gossipy, she doesn't know that when she first starts employment.  She could have had bad experiences in previous workplaces.

I try to share as little as possible.

jimithing

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2011, 09:57:42 PM »

But surely there is a way, other than the new co-worker revealing more of her private life than she is comfortable with, to find out which clients are a good match for her? The OP could work out a list of a few questions, relating strictly to matching clients with staff, and ask the new co-worker just those questions. I guess I'm not seeing why you would need to know a co-worker's private life to do a business related function.

And bansidhe, you bring up another good point, when you mention that your entire office shares the same political view. What if this new co-worker realized, during her first few days on the job, that she *doesn't* share a common viewpoint that the rest of the staff share, be that politics, religion, views on having/not having children, or something else? Her reticence may be to avoid having awkward conversations where she has to defend her point of view.


We actually don't really talk about politics at all. Sometimes, it comes up, and I sort of know which coworkers are more conservative or liberal, but we don't discuss politics.

There have been some other issues with this coworker, namely that she has a very aggressive/confrontational style, and has attacked us as a group, in staff meetings, twice. It was *very* uncomfortable, and shocking. That's not how we operate. We definitely disagree with each other a lot, and regularly, but we are respectful and assertive when discussing problems. We've just been taken aback with her approach when she doesn't agree with things. And those staff meetings were recent, within the past month. Up until then, I would say I was more just guarded/closed with her. 

So that probably contributed to my distrust with her personally, but I was just curious as a whole with new coworkers in general.

Elfqueen13

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2011, 10:24:33 PM »
I know bits and pieces, some of which I am told and some I pick up along the way.  I think if you asked my coworkers they would tell you they know a lot about me.  They would be wrong.
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Firecat

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2011, 12:56:06 AM »
I realized for me, that if I know nothing about a coworker, I don't really trust them. I guess that would be true for most people. I don't immediately trust people I don't know. Not to say that they are not a good coworker, or can't do a good job, just that I personally don't know if they are someone I can trust or not. Also, with the other three therapists, I can immediately tell a client if that therapist would be a good fit for them or not. With her, I literally have no idea.

In your situation, I would feel the same way you do. While I realize that some people aren't comfortable sharing details about their personal lives, I have an immediate distrust of people who are secretive. I just can't help it. In your case, it sounds like the new therapist's behavior may end up having an impact on her work if it's important for you to know which clients are the best fit for her.

Fortunately for me, I've never worked in an environment in which people didn't freely share information about themselves. Also fortunately, we've always drawn the line at scrabble-related details about our personal lives because that's just...no. General scrabble-related topics are fine, however.

At my current job and the one before that, politics were also fair game in my immediate department, as we are/were all of the same political persuasion.

Why is someone who chooses not to freely share about personal life (which is, after all, personal) automatically "secretive" and not just "private"? For example, there are some things I choose not to share in the workplace, or only very selectively. But in general, I do prefer a certain separation between my personal life and my work life, because just working with someone doesn't necessarily mean they're my friends. And actually, on the whole, I prefer not to be too close to my coworkers in that way.

That doesn't mean I won't chat about what I'm reading, or a movie I've seen, or about my weekend plans (in general terms, anyway). For example, I will openly admit to attending a science fiction convention (at least at my current job - previous ones, not so much). But if I'm going to, say, a pagan ritual, I'll just say that I'm getting together with friends and hanging out. Or that I'm going to a potluck or something like that. If asked directly about religion, I'll generally say that I was raised [denomination] and leave it at that, or possibly add that these days, I'm not really a churchgoer. So, basically, some things I'll share, and other things I'll deflect.

Anyway, as previous posters have suggested, maybe the new therapist is still figuring out what's "safe" to share. I'd suggest giving her some more time. It can be pretty intimidating, coming in as a new member of an established group. Or maybe she just prefers to keep things on a more professional footing, and there's nothing wrong with that. But for now, I'd try to avoid judging her too harshly, and try to avoid creating a "the rest of us vs. the new person" dynamic in the office.

Redsoil

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2011, 01:22:44 AM »
I tend to be relatively open about my life, without spilling the beans all over the place.  My workplace is quite small, and we're all fairly friendly types.  Even patients tend to talk quite freely about what's going on with them, and at times, will discuss issues that may need sensitive handling.  I do think it's nice that they feel they can talk to us about other issues in addition to the specific things they see us for.  In turn, we're fairly open with them about what's happening with us, in a general fashion.  Makes for a very relaxed atmosphere, which is nice.

I guess for the new co-worker mentioned by the OP, it may be slightly off-putting to be given information on one hand (having another job) and then be quite abruptly cut off when naturally enquiring further.  I'd feel a bit awkward in such a situation, as though I'd inadvertently been rude or pushy.  Which may then lead to less comfortable interactions, lest I offend again.
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cicero

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2011, 02:57:08 AM »

But surely there is a way, other than the new co-worker revealing more of her private life than she is comfortable with, to find out which clients are a good match for her? The OP could work out a list of a few questions, relating strictly to matching clients with staff, and ask the new co-worker just those questions. I guess I'm not seeing why you would need to know a co-worker's private life to do a business related function.

And bansidhe, you bring up another good point, when you mention that your entire office shares the same political view. What if this new co-worker realized, during her first few days on the job, that she *doesn't* share a common viewpoint that the rest of the staff share, be that politics, religion, views on having/not having children, or something else? Her reticence may be to avoid having awkward conversations where she has to defend her point of view.


We actually don't really talk about politics at all. Sometimes, it comes up, and I sort of know which coworkers are more conservative or liberal, but we don't discuss politics.

There have been some other issues with this coworker, namely that she has a very aggressive/confrontational style, and has attacked us as a group, in staff meetings, twice. It was *very* uncomfortable, and shocking. That's not how we operate. We definitely disagree with each other a lot, and regularly, but we are respectful and assertive when discussing problems. We've just been taken aback with her approach when she doesn't agree with things. And those staff meetings were recent, within the past month. Up until then, I would say I was more just guarded/closed with her. 

So that probably contributed to my distrust with her personally, but I was just curious as a whole with new coworkers in general.
maybe she is just not a nice person, or maybe she is just not a good fit for your group - not because she isn't open, but because it's her nature.

I'm not very open when i first start working someplace (my core nature is very shy and i am also still sometimes uncertain about some social cues) - but I do what i have to do to "fit in". I can be "friendly" without being "friends". as time goes on and i get to know people a bit better, then i can make my choices about becoming more "open" with all/some of my co workers.

I think that what may be different about your particular workplace is that you are therapists and i while i do find that therapists tend to be more open about themselves in general, some of them have very strict and clear boundaries at their work place with clients/co workers (maybe because they have to be very clear with their clients?). it's rare (but very refreshing!) when a therapist will be open about their own issues to their clients (i.e., if i am talking about problems with my parent and therapist will commiserate and mention an anecdote about *her* parents. it's something that therapists tend to NOT do with clients, and i'm wondering if your co worker is simply carrying this over to her entire work place)

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iridaceae

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2011, 03:19:50 AM »
I realized for me, that if I know nothing about a coworker, I don't really trust them. I guess that would be true for most people. I don't immediately trust people I don't know. Not to say that they are not a good coworker, or can't do a good job, just that I personally don't know if they are someone I can trust or not. Also, with the other three therapists, I can immediately tell a client if that therapist would be a good fit for them or not. With her, I literally have no idea.

In your situation, I would feel the same way you do. While I realize that some people aren't comfortable sharing details about their personal lives, I have an immediate distrust of people who are secretive. I just can't help it. In your case, it sounds like the new therapist's behavior may end up having an impact on her work if it's important for you to know which clients are the best fit for her.


My co-workers know about the superficial stuff: vacations, shows I watch, having lunch with my dad, going to the Desert Museum.  I'm sure no one knows my sexual orientation, my dating history or whether I'm even seeing anyone. They do know about some major health issues because I prefer my co-workers to know I'm in the back area checking my blood sugar level and not shooting up.  Many also know my political orientation and where I stand on certain views because I've gotten into a few friendly discussions.

The stuff I keep quiet about tends to be the stuff that they don't need to know in order to work with me.

jimithing

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?
« Reply #28 on: February 15, 2011, 07:11:16 PM »
I have an update about this specific coworker. Unfortunately, she is being let go. She is going to finish out the month, but our supervisor decided she just wasn't a good fit for this position. I posted about what happened in staff meeting, but we've received many complaints from many clients about some things that have happened, and ultimately, she just isn't a good fit for working with teenagers.

So, despite not knowing much about her, I do like her and it is sad. She's been very professional and gracious about the whole thing.

Midnight Kitty

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Re: How Much Do You Know About Your Coworker's Personal Lives?- UPDATE #28
« Reply #29 on: February 17, 2011, 04:52:56 PM »
Thanks for the update, OP.

I prefer to keep my private life private, but I chat with some of my coworkers about personal subjects occasionally.  Our office AC oscillates between freezer and oven.  My cubby neighbor (male, mid-20s, married w/preschooler) knows about my hot flashes because I would ask him, "Is it me or is it hot in here?"  Sometimes it really was the office.  After a couple years, I'm past the worst of the hot flashes, & I told him a funny comment my husband made - "You aren't postmenopausal, are you?"  Cubby neighbor asked, "Where's he been for the last 2 years? In a coma?" >:D

I think it's because I never had the mood swings or other symptoms of menopause, just otherwise inexplicable flushing which passes quickly.  DH didn't realize I had breezed through menopause and was now "past that."

Other than the "Is it hot in here?", I do not discuss my reproductive system with my coworkers.  I'm more willing to discuss the rotator cuff surgery I had last month, but that's because it still affects my ability to do my work (can't use my left arm for another month).
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