Why You Should Never Talk About Spandex, Shaving, Tambourines or Jell-O at the Office

We work long hours. We work in close quarters. We spend more time
with our co-workers than we do with our families. But that doesn’t mean
we can spout off any old thing whenever we get the urge.

Why You Should Never Talk About Spandex, Shaving, Tambourines or Jell-O at the OfficeConsider the guy who described for colleagues the art of shaving his
body – his entire body – all of it – to reduce aerodynamic drag when he
raced his bicycle. Or the woman who told a business lunch that her
16-year-old son was conceived on a first date (with her husband). Or
the woman who bribes her husband to go to church – with sex. Or the man
who keeps a tambourine on his nightstand for "special performances."

These are all cited as cautionary
tales
by The Wall Street Journal. But we all have our
own examples. My personal favorite is the colleague who described his
morning efficiency: He brushed his teeth in the shower. Truly an image I
don’t need in my head, then or now. And especially not an image I
needed every time I went into a meeting.

Some blame the Internet, e-mail, Facebook and all of today’s
hurried communication for this sharing of too much information in the
workplace. I don’t completely buy that: I learned of the synergy between
bodily and oral hygiene well before there was anything like instant
messaging around.

Whatever the reason, the bottom line remains: It’s a good thing to think
before you open your mouth. The colleague you’re sharing with today
could be your boss tomorrow, for one thing. For another, it’s funny the
way tidbits of personal information find their way around an office. If
you don’t want your colleagues in risk management to know the real
reasons why you favor lime Jell-O, it’s best to keep it to yourself.

— Mark Feffer

Comments

7 Responses to “Why You Should Never Talk About Spandex, Shaving, Tambourines or Jell-O at the Office”

April 15, 2010 at 8:04 am, kandiamo said:

There are those that give it but can’t take it. A coworker cringed over hearing about a coworker’s sore he couldn’t heal when the day before she announced to everyone in the breakroom she had a pimple on her b— she needed to pop but had to wait! Granted, we’re all medical, and conversations like this are routine, but word pictures like that are powerful memes waiting for replication (repeated, like now) and potentially damage personal brand in a company or even socially. That incident happened over five years ago but the entire scene is imprinted as if it were yesterday because the word picture was so intense. Self absorbed people may think anything they reveal about themselves is pertinent while people with low self esteem may speak without thinking because they think no one listens to them anyway. In either case, mental images can make you wish there were scouring pads for memory.

It may be useful to consider the Johari Window theory of self revelation and it’s impact on power over us by others. Some things should be kept in the “Hidden” window and revealed with discretion. http://www.noogenesis.com/game_theory/johari/johari_window.html#open

Reply

April 15, 2010 at 8:04 am, kandiamo said:

There are those that give it but can’t take it. A coworker cringed over hearing about a coworker’s sore he couldn’t heal when the day before she announced to everyone in the breakroom she had a pimple on her b— she needed to pop but had to wait! Granted, we’re all medical, and conversations like this are routine, but word pictures like that are powerful memes waiting for replication (repeated, like now) and potentially damage personal brand in a company or even socially. That incident happened over five years ago but the entire scene is imprinted as if it were yesterday because the word picture was so intense. Self absorbed people may think anything they reveal about themselves is pertinent while people with low self esteem may speak without thinking because they think no one listens to them anyway. In either case, mental images can make you wish there were scouring pads for memory.

It may be useful to consider the Johari Window theory of self revelation and it’s impact on power over us by others. Some things should be kept in the “Hidden” window and revealed with discretion. http://www.noogenesis.com/game_theory/johari/johari_window.html#open

Reply

May 13, 2010 at 9:49 am, Pat said:

I call them “etch-a-sketch” moments when I wish I could shake my head and make the picture go away. There are a LOT of things that I don’t want to know about you … why you divorced your husband, why your son is in jail, how much money that you do or do not have in the bank, and above all – what you like to do in bed, with who and how often …..

As a colleague, think of me as the church decon or a first date. Don’t tell me anything that you would not announce in church on Sunday or reveal the very first time that you meet someone. If we become social friends, then we will share, but if I ever have to pick you for a team, review your capabiltities to handle a more responsible job, or decide whether you or the guy who sits next to you gets laid off….I don’t want to know extraneous information that may – despite my best intentions – color my decisions.

Reply

May 13, 2010 at 9:49 am, Pat said:

I call them “etch-a-sketch” moments when I wish I could shake my head and make the picture go away. There are a LOT of things that I don’t want to know about you … why you divorced your husband, why your son is in jail, how much money that you do or do not have in the bank, and above all – what you like to do in bed, with who and how often …..

As a colleague, think of me as the church decon or a first date. Don’t tell me anything that you would not announce in church on Sunday or reveal the very first time that you meet someone. If we become social friends, then we will share, but if I ever have to pick you for a team, review your capabiltities to handle a more responsible job, or decide whether you or the guy who sits next to you gets laid off….I don’t want to know extraneous information that may – despite my best intentions – color my decisions.

Reply

May 14, 2010 at 10:43 am, J Kvas said:

Everyone relax; your biggest faux pas does not compare to a former coworker of mine, who admitted to the entire department that he [had sex]
with a cactus!

Reply

May 14, 2010 at 10:43 am, J Kvas said:

Everyone relax; your biggest faux pas does not compare to a former coworker of mine, who admitted to the entire department that he [had sex]
with a cactus!

Reply

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