There’s been a major movement to keep all things personal out of the workplace. Not only do people avoid taking about family situations at work, they also avoid anything that might hint at religion, politics, the amount of money they have, etc. They’ll say what they did on Sunday and leave out the church part, lest someone ask them what church they attend. Because to answer that will reveal their denominaton, and might give insight into who and how they are spiritually. They’ll scale their vacation activities way down, because going into detail might just reveal how fat that paycheck is.
Well, I’m here to tell you that this way of being is BS. Learning about a coworker’s favorite vacation getaway, or the surprise party she’s planning for her mom, or the shenanigans of her 20-sommething-year-old son add a layer to that person’s personality that should make them more relatable to you. If all we talk about is strategy, business goals, ROI and project updates, we start to sound like robots, and who wants to work with a bot 50 hours out the week. (Yes, 50. People are working very long hours these day. )
Another benefit that getting personal may have is that when coworkers debate plans for their department/division, the more they know about each other the easier it is for them to understand each others’ frame of reference; that doesn’t mean they’ll all agree with each other. It just means that instead of thinking their co-wrokers are just talking crazy, they’ll think their co-workers are talking crazy for a reason — and that reason is their experience, their framework.
So go. Don’t be scared. Get to know the people you work with. You don’t have to end up the best of friends, but you’ll at least build a genuine (not fake and forced) workplace relationship that’ll only make your work team stronger.
I challenge you to share something new with a team member, or welcome him or her to open up to you. You’ll find that once you open up, others will follow your lead. They’re just waiting on you! So go!