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Sharing Personal Information at Work

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2 I was recently hired onto a new unit, and am hoping to get some advice regarding tactful ways to deflect requests for personal information as a new staff member.

Let me start by acknowledging this: I fully understand that when my coworkers ask me about my personal life, they are just trying to get to know me, and have good intentions. I work in a great hospital and 99.9% of the people I've met and/or worked with have been incredibly nice.

However...

I've always been a fan of keeping my professional life and personal life separate. Every time I meet someone new at work, the first three questions put to me are, 1.) "Are you floating, or is this your permanent unit now?" (I'm obviously fine with this one), 2.) "Are you married?", and 3.) "Do you have kids?"

The questions I ask my coworkers upon getting to know them generally pertain to how long they've been on the unit, how long they've been in their profession (RNs, Techs, et.), if they had planned on working in our unit's specialty (Neuro.) and/or if they have a particular interest in the field, etc.

There are plenty of not-strictly-work-related conversations that I'm more than happy to have, but when it comes to talking about whether I'm married/single, have a boyfriend/partner, have kids, attend church/have a religious preference or beliefs, have siblings, etc., I'd rather keep that to myself and only disclose those bits of information if I feel it's appropriate and I'm comfortable with the discretion of the other person involved. Though I'm brand-new, I'm good at my job, outgoing, like to keep busy and help out, and have a good sense of humor. I'm not trying to hide out in a corner, or put up any "go away" signs or anything during my 12 hour shift. I just have a huge crush on healthy boundaries.

Here's my question:

Could other people who have been in a similar situation please give me a few suggestions for how to handle this in a friendly, tactful and respectful way that will allow me to keep the aforementioned information to myself? Of course, I'd rather not have the questions posed to me in the first place...however, I genuinely like all of the people I work with and hope I can find a solution that is a win-win for both me and them.

Thanks!

PS-

As I stated above, I DO understand why my coworkers are asking me about myself, and certainly don't question their motives. If you feel I'm being unreasonable, I'm okay with that and certainly can respect your opinion; however, I'd love to keep any replies on-topic with constructive suggestions.
ok - i'll get it out there by saying that someone asking if you are married or have kids probably isn't crossing the typical person's boundaries... but since it bothers you and you don't want to publicize any details of your life then that is your business. My advice is that when asked questions that you don't feel comfortable answering, just politely say so. A simple "I don't like to discuss my life outside these walls." should suffice. You have to expect the people trying to get to know you are going to ask you about simple demographics of your life. It's how we bond as co-workers. But if enough people on your unit know that you are a private person, it will get around and eventaully people will stop asking. Of course it may also sacrifice having a friendly relationship with co-workers too, but again, that is your business.I'm sorry that i can't give you more insight or tell you how to not have these questions asked in the first place... you can't change the curious nature of humans.

Comment:
You do what makes you comfortable, but I think if you are very tight-lipped about what other people might consider the basics of a person's background info (i.e., married status, kid status, etc.), your coworkers may start talking, if you know what I mean. Not only that, some of your coworkers may be put off by your unwillingness to answer their questions about yourself. However, I do understand otherwise why you don't want to blab too much.

Comment:
You know, that is a interesting question. I have no idea how you should reply without sounding defensive, conceited or unfriendly. I don't usually ask my coworkers anything personal - let them disclose what they want about their personal life - but then again most people love to talk about themselves!!Maybe just stay so busy that there isn't the opportunity for small talk?

Comment:
I am glad you are thinking ahead on this topic since it seems to be very important to you.Unfortunately, nursing is a female dominant profession, and women generally like to know a whole lot more personal information about the people they work with than men.The only nurses who I know who kept their personal lives utterly mysterious were men, and they were no penalized for it.

Comment:
Nothing feeds mindless speculation more than a total lack of information. I think that by choosing not to divulge the bare basics such as relationship status, kids, likes and dislikes, etc. you are setting yourself up to be fodder for the rumor mill and be the subject of countless breakroom discussions. It may not be fair but that's the way it is. If you are okay with that, then no problem. Just don't get all bent out of shape when it happens.

Comment:
I believe that a professional boundary has to be maintained with a patient, but you are certainly going to come across as The Ice Queen if you push your colleagues away every time they try to get to know you better. You will be spending a huge amount of time with these other nurses and may need to rely on them for help and emergency favors when you are in a bind. If you have not formed any bonds within the team, then you will likely find yourself isolated and lacking a shoulder to cry on when you need it. Chill out a bit... who knows, you might make some awesome friends.

Comment:
I should probably also add a few specific reasons for this, in addition to just personal preference...1.) In the six weeks I've been at my hospital (floating to various units before finding my permanent home), I've been asked for my phone number/out on a date by 3 people (during the first 12-hr shift we worked together/had met). I'm certainly not bragging about this...just hoping to explain. Two of those times, it seems it resulted, at least in part, from 2 female staff members informing 2 male staff members that I'm "not married" (I've been answering the questions posed to me so far since I haven't come up with an appropriate/creative/humorous alternative yet). Thankfully, on all three occasions, the guys in question weren't creepy or excessively inappropriate, but as I'm sure you can infer from my OP, that's not a situation in which I'm looking to find myself while at work. I gave a simple and very polite "No" each time, and behaved no differently toward them after being approached. I certainly didn't want the day to become awkward, or for them to feel embarrassed. Only one pressed me for reasons why I had declined, at which point I let him know I wasn't comfortable going into any of that with him.2.) The initial "Are you married?/Do you have kids?" questions are new to me in this particular job. I haven't encountered this at other places I've worked in the past (again...not questioning motives, everyone's been very nice). I'm more accustomed to questions about where I've worked before, where I'm going to school, how I found my way to the company/job, etc.3.) I've always had almost exclusively male friends, was a tomboy, and for the most part, my previous workplaces had slightly more men than women, so this may be unique due to the demographic being different from what I'm accustomed to (as RNPerDiem suggested above).4.) My answers to personal questions generally are not what is expected by the person asking, and invariably leads them to ask follow-ups that feel more objectively invasive (such as, "Why aren't you married?", "Do you want to get married?", "You don't have ANY kids? How old are you?", [I'm 27, just as a point-of-reference] "When are you going to have kids?", "Are you a Christian?", "Do you like to go out? What do you drink?", "Why don't you drink?", etc., etc.)Again, I'm not saying I need to be the unit Sphinx or anything, I'd just like to find a polite and/or humorous way to maybe deflect some of the deeper probing until I'm a bit more settled in. :]

Comment:
I'm afraid I agree with the other responses. Whether someone is married or not, or has kids or not isn't going beyond professional boundaries. Sometimes it helps for coworkers to know this. You never know if you may ever need their help because of a family emergency.I'm all for keeping personal and professional lives separate if that's what you choose, but I do think you are taking it too far with trying to keep that a secret. As others have said, it could just backfire on you.Edited: I posted my answer as you were writing your follow up. After answering whether you're married or not, or don't have kids, how you respond to other questions is up to you. As long as you answer with a smile, "ah, it's just something I don't discuss very often," or something like that will work.

Comment:
Quote from belgarionNothing feeds mindless speculation more than a total lack of information. I think that by choosing not to divulge the bare basics such as relationship status, kids, likes and dislikes, etc. you are setting yourself up to be fodder for the rumor mill and be the subject of countless breakroom discussions. It may not be fair but that's the way it is. If you are okay with that, then no problem. Just don't get all bent out of shape when it happens.

Comment:
Quote from SuethestudentI believe that a professional boundary has to be maintained with a patient, but you are certainly going to come across as The Ice Queen if you push your colleagues away every time they try to get to know you better. You will be spending a huge amount of time with these other nurses and may need to rely on them for help and emergency favors when you are in a bind. If you have not formed any bonds within the team, then you will likely find yourself isolated and lacking a shoulder to cry on when you need it. Chill out a bit... who knows, you might make some awesome friends.

Comment:
I was you! I never wanted to give any recourse for people to chat about later. I was liked this for many years. I was alone at work. Quiet, respectful to my peers and aloof. That behavior protected me from the unknown masses when I supervised.Now, I'm not in management, I've worked very hard to share my life with my peers as they have gained my trust and it has been difficult, not them, but me.I have had may life challenges in the last three years, from a house fire loosing everything but my family, to my daughter almost dying in a car crash and she faces a long recovery. My peers have carried me through, donating vacation hours, supplies, rides to the doctors, checking on my daughter, listening to my struggles.... that it has become a natural progression where I have learned to TRUST. It never came easy, I was always tight lipped, and if I say that now to them, they'd laugh because I feel comfortable sharing everything. Over time, and you will simply FEEEL this, your peers will become family, and they can be a wonderful support system that helps carry you through the hard times.I am very blessed to have a great crew who really is family to me.... but remember as you mentioned and I agreed with in the beginning.. that we initially would never have let them get that close to us.I love where I am and who I am with my peers because I trusted in them and finally shared. You may loose so much in trying to protect yourself that you may never appreciate what you have with the wonderful people where you work.be real, those that don't mesh.. maybe just might later in your career as you adjust.

Comment:
LLG has great advice. You could answer a basic question and then use some humor "wow..twenty questions, huh?" and then turn your attention to the person asking.."hey, how about you..are you married?" "What do you think about xyx?" or change the subject all together " Have you been watching Lost?"
Author: peter  3-06-2015, 16:31   Views: 1168   
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