Monday, January 18, 2010

I didn't want to really know

Please learn when niceties (e.g., "how are you?" reply: "fine.") are appropriate, and when the truth (e.g., "how's it going?" reply: "Not great. I just had my second rectal exam and they still can't find the cause of the bursting polyps.") is not.

Save the personal chit chat for: a) the right people and b) the right time.

Work time is not the time to bare your soul. (Or polyps.) After work, with a trusted friend, partner, or tenth date might be okay.

Also, please, clueless people, please just sit back for a moment and observe body language. Your office mate with his coat on, briefcase closed, heading out the door to pick up his kid does not want to, nor does he have time to, hear about how stressful it was for you to discover that Just Tires only had three of your Goodyears in today, not the four you needed.

The co-worker who's making tea with her head down and shoving her mouth full of cookies probably needs to get back to her desk for good reason. So, no, she doesn't want to share her cookies, and no, sorry, but she doesn't want to hear about the check you bounced last week.

I'm not saying we can't have close friendships or trusted confidantes at work. We can -- in fact, it's a good thing. But if someone a) isn't a trusted confidante, or, b) needs to get to work (or to their kid, or some other pressing commitment), no need to share your deepest darkest.

Try, instead, something like, "I'm fine, thanks. Weekend was rough, but maybe we can talk at lunch?" And leave it.