Work Isn’t A Sorority Ladies: Sharing Personal Details Can Be A Detriment

“They say women talk too much. If you have worked in Congress you know that the filibuster was invented by men.” -American diplomat and playwright Clare Boothe Luce once said this.

According to a recent study women talk almost three times as much as men, with the average woman chalking up 20,000 words in a day – 13,000 more than the average man. Dr. Luan Brizendine says that inherent differences between the male and female brain explain why women are naturally more talkative than men. Women actually devote more brainpower to talking than men. We communicate our thoughts, feelings and desires clearly and articulately, but sometimes this can get us into trouble in the work setting.

C.Bridges said of a new employee at her company:

Upon arrival, the company gossip approached them. Being new and wanting to fit in, befriended the person, shared personal tidbits, etc. The tidbits shared even included how they felt about the people who they met there at the job. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before every single thing they had verbalized and than some was all over the company. People they didn’t even know hated them and did not want to have anything to do with them. The first mistake this person made was divulging too much information with someone whom they did not know.

One woman who works in public relations and chose to remain anonymous said:

I worked in the marketing department of a top law firm in Washington, DC, and there was one employee who would go out of her way to gather details about members of the team and then use that information against them with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), who incidentally ate up everything she offered up. It is always shocking when high-level executives are blind to the dishonest, back-stabbing employees – shouldn’t they know better? Anyway, this individual would pit colleagues against each other using personal “intel” she was able to gather by manipulating people into trusting her. It was really quite amazing how she was able to pull it off, although having a lazy CMO definitely helped in her mission to discredit others or take credit for work she had no involvement in.

A good lesson to anyone who works with toxic people like this – steer clear and call them out when you first notice deceitful behavior. These individuals thrive on non-confrontational people and passive-aggressive team dynamics, so cut to the chase and lay it all on the table.

It is often our desire to make friends and form personal relationships with our colleagues that can backfire on us. “Women enter the job arena with a stronger urge to form and maintain relationships than men do,” said Dr. Frumi Rachel Barr, Executive Coach for Breakthrough Consulting.

Another woman who chose to remain anonymous had a horrific experience when she thought she was helping a colleague with her drinking problem:

About nine years ago, my coworker was having problems with her drinking, so I did something really dumb: I shared with her about my own struggles with alcoholism, and I also took her to AA meetings with me. I had sworn not to break my anonymity and share that particular detail of my life, but my concern for this woman and desire to help her overtook my common sense.

She decided not to get sober. Instead of just letting it be, she turned around and told everyone in the office about my membership in the world’s largest secret society, which backfired horribly for me. People treated me differently, even though I was five years sober at the time and was one of the best employees that this company had. They viewed me as weak. One woman started picking on me regularly. It got so bad that I had to find a new job.

Since then, I have not revealed my sobriety to anyone at work. I do not bond with people at work. I do not look for anything more than superficial conversation about TV shows. I do not tell them any more than they need to know: that I’m married, have kids, own cats, and enjoy reading chick lit and cross-stitching and yoga. Things tend to come out, like my four year old’s temper tantrums or how annoyed I am at property taxes, but for the most part, I do not reveal details that people do not need to know.

 Tamkara Adun, who holds a post Graduate degree in Human Resources Management from the University of London and writes for the Women of HR blog, said of women sharing too much:

It does nothing for our credibility, it does not boost our professional image nor does it support our career aspirations. In a corporate setting, no matter how informal things appear to be, you do not want to overload your audience with excessive personal information. It’s simply not in your best interest to do so.

The woman who does PR for the law firm said she learned from her mistake:

My number one rule: NEVER share personal details at the office no matter how close you are with a co-worker. Unless you’d be comfortable with this information being broadcast to the entire company, keep it to yourself. I’ve learned the hard way that people are usually only out for themselves and will use whatever you share against you later.

We had a chance to share intimate secrets and gossip about it in college in our sororities but this is your career. And though it would be fun to attend a Golf Pros and Tennis Hoes party everyday it would get redundant after a while so stop acting like this is a sorority and save your deep secrets for friends you don’t work with because it could come back to haunt you. Gossip damaging your career is much worse than any hazing ritual.



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