Have you ever been on the other end of experiencing TMI—Too Much Information? Even if you consider yourself to be friends with a colleague at work, it can be awkward to hear about the details of someone’s personal life. As a Latina, we often cherish being in close personal relationships and accept this as part of our culture. It can be the way we stay connected or feel part of a circle of friends to know every detail of what may be happening in each other’s lives. It’s easy for us to be an “open book” and depending on your experience with blogging and social media, talking about your personal life and views can also feel like part of your routine.
In the work environment, however, over sharing can be liability—especially if sharing something can make you vulnerable to what others ask of you on the job. How? Let’s say you just had a major disagreement with your significant other. It’s truly no one’s business to hear about your break up with your boyfriend. But if you share about how much he hurt your feelings, someone can begin to think about how distracted your are over the break up and that this isn’t a good time to put you on such an project. Esta lastimada! She’s hurting! Let her get over that and then we can assign her something else.
A good friend provided a small acronym to use when you are about to share something personal: WAIT—Why Am I Talking? When you are about to share information about your personal life at work, ask yourself what is the purpose of sharing? What are you going to gain if co-workers learn about this? What will others conclude about you? Can someone take this the wrong way? What assumptions can people make about you and your job?
All of us can occasionally feel like unloading about a stressful event and we should do so –with trusted friends and family. We also sometimes want to tell how much we have overcome to be where we are in life. Those stories we tell around the family dinner table are sometimes stories of hardship and overcoming a family crisis. While these can play a role in shaping our Latino community experience and value for hard work or persistence, unfortunately these can be sorely misunderstood when out of context. Growing up with humble beginnings and striving for more is a universal good story that reflects positively on our tenaciousness. That same story can get interpreted in ways you don’t expect—she sees herself as a victim or she may be uncomfortable in the C-suite.
If you have a tendency to share too much of your personal story, WAIT. Take a moment and look for a way to get your message across without having to use your personal life as an example. Focus on the work place discussion and the topic your colleagues are reviewing. When you are being asked to talk about your people skills, for example, focus on the team you manage or your customers and not the family reunion you once had to organize that involved resolving a long term family conflict between two Tías. As much as you can draw from these personal stories, this interaction is about work. Keep it focused on work. Think about how to speak to your personal brand and emphasize consistent messages on your brand so that your colleagues recognize your value at work. Let that be your best story! Tell me about how you stop the hazards of TMI at Latina Cubicle Confidential™ or visit me live at the next LatinaVIDA™