A friend of mine is going through a tough time in her personal life. She is caring for her very ill elderly father and is facing resistance by her siblings who disagree with everything from medication choices to the amount of time the father spends with his great-grandchildren.
Because she can’t share these troubles with her family, she has turned to her work community for support. She works in a tight-knit environment and her colleagues have pitched in with everything from watching her father for a few hours so she can take a break to simply being a listening ear when she attempts to sort out her next steps.
She has, however, expressed some concern that she has crossed the line between personal and professional and that sharing this information may cause people to view her differently. In this concern she is entirely correct – her coworkers will inevitably view her differently after seeing this different side of her. However, this is not always a bad thing.
Everybody has different thresholds for sharing themselves with their coworkers. Some people work in collegial environments where everybody knows who is dating whom and everything else that is going on in their colleagues’ lives. Some people prefer that their personal lives remain a mystery.
The most important thing is to figure out where your line between personal and professional lies. After figuring that out, you can assess whether your dividing line is appropriate for your work situation.