We work long hours. We work in close quarters. We spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our families. But that doesn't mean we can spout off any old thing whenever we get the urge.
Consider the guy who described for colleagues the art of shaving his body - his entire body - all of it - to reduce aerodynamic drag when he raced his bicycle. Or the woman who told a business lunch that her 16-year-old son was conceived on a first date (with her husband). Or the woman who bribes her husband to go to church - with sex. Or the man who keeps a tambourine on his nightstand for "special performances."
These are all cited as cautionary tales by The Wall Street Journal. But we all have our own examples. My personal favorite is the colleague who described his morning efficiency: He brushed his teeth in the shower. Truly an image I don't need in my head, then or now. And especially not an image I needed every time I went into a meeting.
Some blame the Internet, e-mail, Facebook and all of today's hurried communication for this sharing of too much information in the workplace. I don't completely buy that: I learned of the synergy between bodily and oral hygiene well before there was anything like instant messaging around.
Whatever the reason, the bottom line remains: It's a good thing to think before you open your mouth. The colleague you're sharing with today could be your boss tomorrow, for one thing. For another, it's funny the way tidbits of personal information find their way around an office. If you don't want your colleagues in risk management to know the real reasons why you favor lime Jell-O, it's best to keep it to yourself.
-- Mark Feffer