RECENTLY, the Wall Street Journal (herein after referred to as the Journal), ran an article by Mr. Edward Rothstein. The article, "The World's Wild Wonders" focused on the exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History called, "Life at the limits: Stories of Amazing Species". The writing is wonderful and the topic even better. He tells of small creatures that can survive in space and freezing temperatures and come back alive and flourishing. He tells of woodpeckers with giant tongues and lizards with unique talents such as squirting blood four feet out of their eyes. He doesn't tell us of his own unique talent. He only shows it through writing. That made me wonder.
Mr. Rothstein has the privilege, quite earned I suspect, of being the Journal's "Critic at Large". As soon as I read his title, my mind went to another place of wonder. I wonder if I were critic at large at the office...
Critic at large obviously is not a negative title. It is one deserved for observation and documentation skills developed over time. I do not have this as a formal part of my training. But, I do have it and wondering about the goings on is what I do.
For instance, a person in our office came up to me and asked if I had heard about Freida's's problems. "She told Jane and Bob, but doesn't want others to know." Freida works for me, and the others, including the teller, do not. I am not totally sure that matters, but what did matter is that these people were doing the one thing she asked them not to do! They were sharing her secret and sharing it with her bosses boss. In this case it was about a family matter. It could potentially have an impact on work, but hasn't. So why were they sharing? And why with me, a Director?
The wonder is in the why. I believe they were sharing because having this secret bit of knowledge made them feel important and special. And, they wanted others to know that they are important and special. Who wants to talk about balance sheets and profit margins? In a non-work environment, if you told your best friends' secrets you would be looking for a new best friend! But, in the work environment, you don't get to choose with whom you must deal. That situation inevitably leads to confiding in people because you are with them more than reliably than anyone else. Normal human behaviour dictates that if you are with this person so frequently for such a prolonged period, you start to interact as family, and de-emphasize co-worker relationships. A normal reaction, especially for difficult news delivered at work. But not wise. Here is why.
|Derby Day at the office|
Your behaviour, inspite of the circumstances, is still evaluated on job performance by upper management. Sharing tidbits of information about another does not improve your performance, but could drastically affect some one elses. And management may now view you (the sharer) as untrustworthy and perhaps, disloyal. Was that the intention of the "sharing"? I doubt it. I think the employee received a call at work with bad news and needed to share and chose to do so with an indiscreet co-worker. The result, while immediately gratifying, was devastating to the employee who shared. Word to the wise, if you truly don't want something shared at work, call you sister or your minister or anyone outside of your office. That is the only way to ensure that your secrets don't belong to everyone.
To the contrary, there are those who want their secrets shared. "I am getting divorced, I can date!" "I am graduating from college and have an interview somewhere else!" She said what? I am eating Breakfast at Tiffanys!
These are far different from personal information that you want held close.
The other situation that seems to cause angst is the work function with relaxing food and drink, but the formal relationships in tact. Take the dinner cruise for instance.