We all do it. We chat at work about our family. We chat on Facebook about school classes, social life, family and work. I am guilty of all of this. Sometimes I need to remind myself that we don’t need to share everything with everyone. And sometimes the stuff we share can come back to bite us. Be cautious about oversharing in contexts where you are mixing the professional and the personal—especially when that information is highly relevant to and can have a negative effect on you at work.
Some time ago, I had in my office a soon-to-be graduate. We were discussing the possibility of her negotiating a higher salary from an employer for after graduation. We went through the facts of what folks in that situation typically earn (a few thousand more), some background on the employer, and other relevant information. Her initial offer from his employer was a little low. After we discussed all the facts and possible strategy, she also let me know that she had recently told the employer that this was her only job prospect, and that things were impossibly dismal for new graduates—she had even probably overstated the challenges. Maybe an employer would have assumed that was the situation—but maybe not, given that the salary they were offering was low in comparison with our numbers. Now, with that specific information confirmed, what do you suppose the employer would do with it? We don’t need to walk around being paranoid, but use just a little caution when sharing information in a professional context.