I bet when you think of your co-workers, you think they’re the best around and they’ve got your back. Sure, you have a question about a policy and they’re ready with an answer.  You’re running late to a meeting and they back you up.  You can’t access a report because your laptop is frozen and they come to the rescue.  You’re frustrated with a new change taking place and they’re a willing ear- listening and nodding and totally understanding where you’re coming from.   Or you’ve got an amazing date tonight and if you call off sick tomorrow, they’ll know why….wink wink.

Listen to me.  One of these things is not like the other (yes, I’m channeling Sesame Street here)  Where do you draw the line on personal sharing?  Can you guess which one doesn’t belong?  Maybe there’s more….

We want to believe that when we’re part of a team, these people are our friends.  They’re more than co-workers, they’re FAMILY. We tell them everything and then some.  We share our first moments. We share pictures. We talk about love, death, sex….we talk about EVERYTHING.  We build relationships that go beyond work.  We want to blend personal with business…but when a breach occurs, threatening our trust, we are slapped into reality.  Work is WORK.  It’s not personal, it is business (thank you Donald Trump).

Most of us do have great teams to work with.  I know I’ve got amazing colleagues that I can share my frustrations, new ideas and silly talk without wondering if I’ll be thrown under the bus.  But, many of you have shared just the opposite.  You’ve been burned.  Rolled over on the Key Bridge by the teammate who threw you out of the window.  Ok, that’s extreme but you get the picture.  Stop treating co-workers like your best friends.  My plea to you is this:  Share personal items with care.  For one thing, you never know who else is listening and what they’re misunderstanding in the process. Second, your co-worker may not have the ability to separate personal from business.  And finally, social media is a firestorm waiting to set the world on fire…or your office desk.

Your perceived “safety zone” is not actually a safe zone where you speak your mind and believe that “what happens at work, (in your little secret meeting) stays at work.” No way, sister.  Your momma taught you to think before you speak.  In this case, think very carefully before you ask a question, challenge a policy, vent frustration over a new business strategy, or share last night’s date information.  Heck, even locker room talk isn’t safe.

If you’re not careful,  you may just wreck your reputation and your career.

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