iStock_000023671474XSmallShould there be boundaries between coworkers?

Generally speaking, women, more so than men, tend to connect by sharing info about their personal life.  For example; you both have teens ready to go away to college; boom, instant connection (in most cases).

What about when the “sharing” goes too far, too soon?  What’s too far? That’s a matter of personal boundaries.

Communication is how we develop relationships. Social skills is how we manage those relationships.

Some people don’t mind sharing even the most intimate details of their life, while others fiercely guard it. That is where common sense, respect, and awareness comes in.  What’s too soon?  That is up to each individual. For some people, the answer is, never. 

Are some topics taboo? Yes. Especially about one’s romantic relationship. Oh sure, confiding in your best friend, occasionally venting about how he doesn’t do this or that, is not uncommon to share. But when you start divulging things that would embarrass your partner, perhaps it’s time to evaluate your professionalism and respect for your partner. 

If you are the open-book type, don’t assume that everyone else is.  And please, don’t get offended because someone refuses to answer a question on the grounds that it’s too personal. 

Especially in the workplace, here are a few questions to avoid asking when you first meet someone (or ever!):

  1. How many times a week do you and your husband…? (yes, it’s what you’re thinking, and yes, a colleague actually asked me this.)
  2. How old are you?  (or “women our age”; that’s a risky assumption.)
  3. How much are you making? (we’d better be sisters or my tax accountant.)
  4. How much did you pay for…” 
  5. Is that your natural color? (wait until I get to know you better.)
  6. Why didn’t you have kids? (besides it being none of your business…nope, that’s it.)
  7. (As Mexican food is being served) “Oh, you’re going to love this!” Why; because first you assume I’m Mexican, and then you assume I must love Mexican food? (Yes, from experience.)
  8. We should go away for a girls get-away weekend. (I just met you.
  9. Would you babysit for me tomorrow?)

My thoughts: Maybe you don’t consider these as personal or nosy, but if it’s all the same to you, please be considerate of those of us who are uneasy or prefer to discuss the things with people we have developed a trusting relationship with. Thank you for your understanding. In the workplace, social skills are helpful–they guide our decisions so that we don’t overstep our boundaries.  And if you are uncomfortable or find a question or conversation topic too personal, say so. 

Helping Businesses and Individuals Find Success Through Better Communication and Social Skills

having lunch with a CEO, business dining etiquetteRosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills and Civility Presenter, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”

Presentations are available to support HR policies, sales teams, up and coming managers, millennials & new-hire orientation process, service technicians, professional development events, conferences, college/university students, interns. For more information, please contact me, 650.871.6200.


photo source: