In order to build strong professional networks, we have to be open and communicative with our colleagues. But there’s a fine line between productive discussion and information over-sharing that can wreak havoc on our chances at succeeding and advancing our career.
So how do we know what level of emotional intimacy is acceptable in the workplace? We asked three successful business leaders to reveal to us, what they will never reveal about themselves at work.
- Avoid emotional outbursts. Adam Schwab, Managing Director of eCommerce leader, AussieCommerce Group, believes being too emotional could lead to a far worse outcome than intended. While it’s natural to feel a sense of anger or disappointment at certain business outcomes, Schwab says, “if I’m ever disappointed about something, it’s always best to wait 24 hours and try to understand the problem, so I can empathise with the team member, rather than being accusatory.”
Likewise for an employee, having emotional outbursts in the workplace can appear unprofessional and inconsiderate, hindering your chance at a promotion. Schwab continues, “in the end, no one intentionally does something wrong, so the key is to learn from mistakes and not let emotion overcome rational decision-making.” Robin Caras, Director of Punthill Apartment Hotels agrees and adds, “employers must lead by example; if one expects staff to have integrity, leadership has to set the tone.”
- Political opinions and religious beliefs. People's political and religious beliefs are an integral and often intimate part of their identity, and can become charged topics of discussion that can cause controversy and offence. It is for this reason that Caras prefers to avoid these topics in the workplace. She believes that "imposing one's values, prejudices or judgments on a colleague or employee with differing values can alienate team members, and shows a lack of respect.”
She instead encourages confident discussion and expression of views when they’re productive, to contribute to “a harmonious, collaborative and inclusive office.” So, the next time someone brings up a contentious topic, avoid engaging and focus on your work instead, for the sake of your colleagues, and career.
- What they do on Facebook. Jeremy Leibler, Partner of national law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler, says that as a general rule, he avoids engaging with his employees on social media websites unless they have initiated contact with him directly. He says, “I think it’s important to be able to have a social life distinct from a professional life, so if team members prefer to keep that separate from me I respect that”.
Whether it’s a snap of what you’re wearing, who you’re with or even a friend’s commentary, there are many little things that can cast a shadow of doubt in your boss’ mind, just when they are about to assign you to a big project or recommend you for a promotion. For an employee wanting to climb the ladder, it’s best to leave Facebook for your friends to avoid the risk of appearing inappropriate and leaving a bad impression the next time your boss logs on!