How personal should you get with your coworkers?
Whether you’re working full time in a hotel or part time in a restaurant, you may spend more hours with your coworkers each week than you do with your own family. It’s only natural that you’ll form friendly relationships with at least a few of them, maybe even making a work ‘best friend.’ However, while getting personal with your coworkers can sometimes be beneficial – for example, a Gallup poll found professionals with a close work friend were 43 percent more likely to have received positive recognition for their performance – it can also be problematical, especially if it blurs boundaries, gets too distracting or affects your productivity or promotability.
Limit your sharing if you have career aspirations. If you’d like a promotion to a managerial position someday, it’s in your best interest to foster an image of good judgement, strength and leadership. Don’t share personal information with your coworkers that makes you appear otherwise or you could risk losing their respect. For example, while barely avoiding a home foreclosure may not actually have anything to do with your abilities as a hotel front desk employee, it could undermine your coworker’s trust in your financial acumen.
Avoid discussing negative life events. The longer you work with the same group of people, the more they’ll naturally get to know about your personal life. However, this doesn’t mean it’s wise to share intimate details about problems you may be having at home with anyone but your closest friends. Again, anything of a negative nature may end up reflecting negatively upon you – a risk you probably shouldn’t take if you value your job. In addition to the financial issues mentioned earlier, negative events you should probably keep to yourself include anything related to your children (including trouble in school, arrests or drugs) or your significant other (affair, divorce, disagreements, etc.).
Watch your behavior on social media as well. Unless we’re talking about a strictly business social media platform like LinkedIn, it’s probably best to not ‘friend’ or allow your coworkers or boss to ‘follow’ you online, particularly if you are in the habit of venting about work or sharing those negative details about your life. The personal details you share on Facebook can be just as damaging to your professional reputation as what you share at work.
When you must share, stick to the basics. Of course, sometimes things happen that you have to share because they will affect your coworkers and your ability to do your job. These things include pregnancies and adoptions, illnesses that will require you to take time away from work, and family circumstances that will require an altered schedule. While you don’t have to divulge all the details, you should share the basic information with your supervisor and affected coworkers as soon as it is prudent to do so.
Also, keep it inconsequential and positive. If you never share anything about your life outside of work, you may come across as cold or strange, which can also affect your future in a people-oriented industry like hospitality. Don’t hesitate to share minor details (like what movie you saw on your day off or where you plan to take your family on vacation) or positive events (such as engagements, graduations or buying a new home). Information like this is unlikely to cause you future problems.