How to Avoid Getting "Too Much Information"

Dear Ms. Demeanor:

One of my co-workers is constantly coming in with tales of where she went last night, how much she drank, even whom she hooked up with. While some of the other folks seem to enjoy -- even live for -- her outrageous adventures, I find it all in poor taste. I don't approve of her lifestyle, and if I have to work beside her, there are things I just don't want to know. How do I get her to keep her personal life personal, at least with me?

Shelley

Question:

Dear Shelley:

That's a touchy one! And under no circumstances should you be subjected to such unsolicited information. Speak with her alone. Simply and directly, say something like, "I understand that the majority of our co-workers enjoy listening to your stories. However, I'm just incapable of handling such personal information, and I find that I'm incapable of responding to it. It really would be better for both of us if you'd not tell me about the intimacies of your life. I'd really appreciate your cooperation with this."

As long as you're speaking of your experience, she cannot become defensive, which is when communication stops. Once she respects your desire not to know the intimate details of her after-work hours, continue to be friendly and let her know how much more you enjoy working with her. Good luck.

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