I suspect we’re all guilty of bringing our personal lives and challenges into work from time to time. For some people, however, it’s a regular occurrence and their daily tales of woe unfold before you like some bizarre reality soap-opera that you can’t turn off. At best, it is distracting; and for all but the most stalwart of reality TV fans, the constant stream of troubles at home can wear thin very quickly.
Here Are Two Things You Can Do
This particular type of coworker isn’t typically a bad person – it’s just someone who doesn’t understand that it’s inappropriate for people to bring their personal lives to work (and vice versa!). The good news is that they will usually stop once they realize that they don’t have a sympathetic ear.
You don’t have to be abrupt, rude or nasty about it. Just try one of these two approaches:
1. As soon as he (she) starts, interrupt him by putting your hand up. Look him in the eye, smile, and say, “Fred, don’t take this the wrong way – but I have to get to work.” It’s direct, but if you say it with eye contact and a smile, he will get the message without getting offended.
2. As soon as he starts, gently (emphasis on gently) make fun of it. Interrupt by saying something like, “Wow, are you a member of the problem-of-the-week club, or what?” or “I should get you to dictate this into a tape recorder. I record all my other soap operas.” One Winning At Work subscriber says that whenever her co-worker began his rant, she flips up a little tent-card on her desk that says “The Doctor is In – $5”
Have fun – but don’t be nasty about it, otherwise you’re the one she’ll be talking about next!