Today with all the personally revealing reality shows on TV and the sharing of way too much private and intimate information on social media sites the trend for Too Much Information (TMI) is naturally spreading into the workplace. More and more professionals are getting caught in the trap of revealing personal information in a way that is unprofessional, inappropriate for the office, and can even make others feel uncomfortable. Once the cat is out of the bag it can be impossible to remedy the situation and the damage is done. There is an old wartime military expression that reminds people to keep their secrets so that the information doesn’t fall into enemy hands. As the saying goes, “Loose lips sink ships.” Keep in mind that in 2010 they can also torpedo your chances of career advancement.

Your office colleagues are your part of your professional network, not your best friend tribe. People make judgments about you when they hear you expressing details and secrets about your sex life, marital issues, or private grooming habits. That’s textbook TMI, and it can wreck your career faster than you can say “Tweet.” It’s a surefire way to put the brakes on any chance of promotion or additional corporate responsibility because when people lose respect for you, you lose your ability to lead.

But TMI doesn’t just blurt out at the water cooler or in the elevator. Especially in this fiercely downsized economy, you don’t want to be sharing too much information about your private life on Facebook, Twitter, or in social interactions with work colleagues that happen after hours. Your personal brand is on display 24/7, so if you want to be seen as a memorable professional you have to make sure you are remembered for the traits that strengthen your brand and not the ones that weaken or detract from it.

That doesn’t mean you don’t show your softer side to colleagues and clients, because nobody wants to interact with someone who comes off as inauthentic or incapable of being human. But there is a delicate line between sharing and spilling your guts. Once you’re over the line – revealing inappropriate details of your private life – others may feel uncomfortable in your presence.

Relationships are never stagnant, either. You may have a confidante this year who keeps your little secrets quite well. But a few years from now that close relationship may have changed significantly – leaving you to wonder and worry whether hush-hush information is still under lock and key. Save yourself the stress and embarrassment that occurs when a former colleague is promoted to be your boss – while he or she still knows details of your personal life that you would never willingly share with a corporate superior.

Think before you speak. You are creating a lasting impression that will either help or hinder you, and living in the Information Age means you are always under the microscope or close to the microphone. If you would not want to see it printed across the front page of the Wall Street Journal, maybe you should not share it with your colleagues at work.

Author's Bio: 

Sarah Hathorn is a professional image consultant, certified personal brand strategist, speaker, and author.
Her company, Illustra Image Consulting, works with high-achieving future leaders and large businesses by enhancing their corporate and personal brand image to take their businesses and careers to the next level.
Blog, Ezine & Website:
Phone: 678-528-1239 Email:
Copyright © 2010, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS
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