Life

How much of your personal life should you share with your co-workers?

As Davina Potratz from Netflix’s Selling Sunset is puzzled that she doesn’t know much about Chrishell Stause’s life, one writer reflects on how the lines of between being a colleague and a friend can get blurry.

I had the same plans as everyone this weekend, and it was to binge the latest season of Selling Sunset in one sitting. I booked my entire Sunday off just to do just that and I have no regrets. The show surrounds a group of real estate agents selling some of the most ridiculously expensive yet utterly glamorous homes in Valley, California. In addition to the sumptuous mansions I want to own, it also has the right amount of reality tv drama that keeps you hooked.

One of the agents who I hold dear to my heart is Chrishell Stause. Her style, her elegance, her hair — her hair is somehow ALWAYS on point at every given moment. She is genuinely cheerful much of the time, stands up for her friends and regularly remains positive, even though some of the agents think she is being fake.

Selling Sunset fans will know that season three focuses on the devastating news of Chrishell’s unexpected divorce with This Is Us star, Justin Hartley. She is a lively person, so to see her with a big smile on her face constantly knowing that the colossal news about her relationship was going to be revealed as the episodes went on, was painful.

Lucky for Chrishell, some of her colleagues, Mary and Heather were absolutely heartbroken for her and wanted to make sure she was doing OK, however, some were deeply concerned with why her relationship broke down. Which leads me to the question of how much should we share about your personal life with your co-workers? Are they entitled to know the ins and outs of everything that happened outside of your 9-5?

For some strange reason, Davina’s main priority was to find out the details surrounding her co-workers split - keyword being ‘co-worker’. “You know she’s not very open [about her personal life] and we all are with our stuff. I don’t know him and he has his side of the story too probably,” she said. Davina was utterly puzzled as Justin, whom she’s met once, has “always been nice” to her, making it hard for her to be: “100% team Chrishell”. She continues: “She’s so guarded and so protected all the time,” with Christine adding, “we are only hearing one side of the story”.

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Firstly, everyone is entitled to their right to privacy, especially in the workplace hence why HR systems and data protection acts are in place. Now because of social media, lines can get very blurred when you are adding your colleagues on Instagram and watching their Stories. You start to get a bit overfamiliar and think because you have a glimpse into their lives, that perhaps you are actually friends. This is an occurrence for Lauren Green who’s colleagues often quiz her about everything she posts on social in their morning meetings. After finding it uncomfortable, she felt it was a necessity to soft block them.

“I recently created a new Instagram account so that I could soft block my colleagues on my personal one,” she said. “I hate the thought of them knowing what I get up to in my personal life, not because I’m doing anything wild. But mainly because we just don’t share the same views and beliefs and I just want to be able to post freely,” she told Stylist.

Echoing Lauren’s views, Claire Hudson who works long hours for the NHS, said: “I think it’s good to keep them separate, work me and social me are different. Just because I know boundaries doesn’t mean my colleagues will.” For a lot of us, we spend the majority of our days with our colleagues and for some this can provide escapism from our personal life — you’re able to leave your troubles and struggles behind and enter a space where no one knows what’s going on, and that can be a big breather for some. 

How much of your personal life should you share with your co-workers?
Are your co-workers entitled to know about your personal life?

However, for Stylist’s Jazmin Kopotsha, sharing with her co-workers is no problem at all, in fact, it’s made her work life more enjoyable. “I feel like I share too much with my work colleagues. I’m not mad about it, but perhaps I should ask them how they feel about hearing about falling out with housemates, my tragic dating life and occasional IBS flare-ups…. I happen to be quite an open person and I’m very aware that the more you give to people the more you get back.”

She has made long lasting friends with the women she has worked with over the years but she admits “you always run the risk of blurring the lines between professional and social (after-work drinks, anyone?)”. Similar to Jazmin, I have made some valuable and incredible friendships at work but I am always cautious of oversharing due to my own paranoia, “Is this information going to be used as office gossip?”, “If I reveal parts of my health issues, will this be used against me and my capability to do my job?” Because I would wholeheartedly drop into a dark hole if my personal life was brought up in front of others at work like as it played out for Chrishell, with Davina saying in front of the whole office: “I have no idea on the details… You didn’t get married to get divorced, you know right?”

All in all, it’s not really your business to know the ins and outs about your co-worker’s life unless they make the decision to trust and confide in you as a friend. But please don’t go spreading their secrets around the office. As Selling Sunset’s Maya put it perfectly: “We can’t assume and judge about her life. It’s none of our business and we have to respect her and her privacy”.

Image: Netflix

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