Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Judging Your Audience

As a continuation to Oversharing in the Workplace, I'd like to say that many of us can benefit by a quick assessment of the audience at work before we choose to share information about ourselves.

This is a technique that writers often use in order to choose the tone and information conveyed. Judging the audience is also a technique speakers use to write an effective talk (or sermon). You can also judge your audience in the workplace pretty effectively before you share.

What sorts of details might you consider sharing (or not sharing)?

  • I had a very romantic weekend in Pagosa Springs. It's great to be in the saddle again.
  • I hate it here and need to get another job. I'm so damn depressed.
  • My partner and I are considering adopting, but we can't because of our bankruptcy.
  • I just had a colonoscopy. Yow.
Now there are times, places, and people with whom all of the above are appropriate discussion topics. How can you tell if it's appropriate in your workplace? You have to use empathy, and try my little list below to evaluate your sharing beforehand the words leave your mouth:

1. Consider if this is the sort of information that you want the audience to know for the rest of their lives.

2. Consider what happens if the audience tells others people. Could that hurt you? Help you?

3. Try to predict how the audience will react. Smile? Nod appreciatively? Run toward the exit? Picture your anus?

4. Consider how you will respond to their reactions.

If these questions leave you with an icky feeling, consider not sharing it. There are pages and pages of exceptions, of course, but I think a little thought beforehand can mitigate a lot of regret afterward.