I was thinking today about my “work” persona. When I work, I focus on work. I’m there to get the job done for which I’m being paid. I’m not there to socialize, make friends, take 17 breaks, or waste time. I’m there to do an excellent job, quickly and efficiently. I want to get an A+, not be voted most popular.
I believe in boundaries, especially at work. Not every person in the office needs to know my personal story, what I did over the weekend, or what I’m having for breakfast. I’m not an open book, and my personal life is personal. There’s no place for it at the office. I don’t share my private life with my coworkers, and I don’t really want them to share theirs with me. We’re there to get the job done.
What I’ve disliked most is having to share a cubicle or an office with “touchy-feely” coworkers. Women who have wanted to chat incessantly, tell me everything about their entire life, share personal stories I’m not comfortable hearing, tell me about their marital woes, and cry on my shoulder. And I’ve had to tell them that I’m neither their friend, nor their confidante, nor their psychiatrist.
Harsh. Mean. Rigid. Cold. Scary.
Yeah, I’ve been called all of these things. But I got the job done and I did it well, so I didn’t care, really. I checked in, got it done, and checked out. I had a life outside of work. I had friends outside of work. I didn’t rely on my coworkers or my job to be my life.
However, I realized with time that it was okay to soften those boundaries (just a bit – let’s not go crazy). After about two years at my last job, I began to let my guard down and started letting a select few people in. I realized it was okay to chat for a few minutes in the hallway, to talk about my weekend plans, to lessen my glare.
The office became a friendlier place. I built some wonderful friendships. And I still got my job done.
But please, for the love of all things, don’t cry to me in the office. I’ll pass you the tissues and get back to my work.
OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.