Too Much Information?

Too Much Information?

We’ve been talking about openness in the office.  Could sharing personal information with colleagues be good for your career, or might it backfire on you?

There’s a great article (well, a preview of one) in the Harvard Business Review about sharing personal feelings in the office.  It’s called ‘Be yourself, but Carefully‘ and it’s written by a professor of management and another of ‘organisational sciences and communication’.

The premise is that being open with people, sharing a bit about yourself, can improve relationships and build trust at the office.  You may not want to be best friends with your colleagues, but becoming friendly can make you look genuine.   If you decide you’re comfortable with how things are going, then you can reveal a bit more over time.  But understand that a personal story does not create a friendship, but will strengthen an existing one.

The writers identified five personality types when it comes to sharing information in the office.  See if you can spot yourself. 

Oblivious leaders

These guys don’t have a realistic view of themselves, so what they say comes across as phony.  Before you can be authentic, you have to understand what your values and skills are and how others might view them.


This group have a much better understanding of who they are, but can’t express themselves clearly and don’t pick up social cues very well.   They need to work on reading the crowd and deciding what’s appropriate to talk about.

Open books

Sharing too much is also a bad thing.  Books don’t talk just about themselves, but about everything.  So while they might be a source of knowledge, ultimately people don’t trust them and wonder about their ability to be discrete.

Inscrutable leaders

The inscrutables (which sounds like a Stallone film) have difficulty sharing anything, so can seem a bit distant and might be overlooked.  How can you form a relationship with someone if they never give anything back?

Social engineers

The engineers don’t share easily and, like bumblers, have difficulty reading social cues.  But they expect other people to share and may even use those revelations to their advantage.  Naughty naughty.

Where do you fit in?  I’m probably an Inscrutable Bumbler.  (An inscrumbler?  A bumcrutable?)   Have a look at the article and see what you think.  It might also be interesting to categorise your colleagues and then ask them to judge themselves.   Do your findings match?

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Euroffice Customer at 1:24 pm

    Just need to be smart, what can be talk about and what’s not! Some people do overshare and it can be quite gross eg. too much earwax…not gonna go into the gross details

  2. Euroffice Customer at 1:21 pm

    Not sure I fit into any of those categories, is there not one for “Make it all up as you go through the day” ?

  3. Euroffice Customer at 1:21 pm

    I’ve seen oversharers become very popular and friendly with their work colleauges but when it comes to getting things done being too friendly can lead to problems when it comes to respect and authority. Getting the balance right can be tricky. I find it’s best to keep private matters private, be friendly, approachable and respectful and don’t allow yourself to be drawn into gossip. Work is work and I don’t feel the need to be everybodys best friend.

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