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How much should you confide in your boss?

John Lees, career coach, has some words of advice on how much you should share at work

by Psychologies

Should you confide at all?

It depends on your natural style – some people are natural disclosers. It’s about extroversion: some people are comfortable with disclosure, while others say too much and dominate the conversation. It can be about relationship building – a degree of disclosure invites trust. To say, ‘Don’t say anything about your personal life at work,’ would be poor advice.

What should you reveal about yourself?

Don’t be tempted to overshare just to win a relationship, you could be giving away far too much. Beware of saying something that jars with the image you’re trying to build of yourself. You may have activities or attitudes outside work that would change the way you’re seen at work. 

Does what you divulge matter?

If it changes the way people look at you at work in a negative way, then it does matter. And it cannot be undone.

Should you be Facebook friends with colleagues?

It depends on the organisational culture. Look at the level of disclosure in the rest of the group. Have a good look at what’s on your own Facebook page too. Is it suitable? Does it send out the right messages about the kind of person you are? Reticence is good – what you’re sharing might be appropriate, but think about it.

What if my boss overshares with me?

If you feel the need to reciprocate, you can say things that sound personal but give nothing away. And always assume that what’s said to you is confidential, never use it to your advantage. Indiscretion could damage your career. It’s also a test of courtesy that you can keep something to yourself.

Is it all right to confide via email?

The key to knowing when to confide is observation, picking up on the other person’s natural working style and interpreting what you’re seeing in a sensible way. It’s easier to pick up cues face to face. If you have anything delicate to say, the level of risk is increased in emails. It’s difficult to get the tone right. By committing something to email you cross a line.

How To Get A Job You’ll Love by John Lees is published by McGraw-Hill Professional and costs £12.99

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