Should I talk about my family in one-on-ones? (Maybe.)

Musing for:

Should I talk about family in one-on-ones?

In a professional environment, people are often hesitant to talk about personal or family situations with their peers or their bosses. Is it really appropriate to cross the work/home boundary during conversations in the workplace? I think it can be, with some caveats.


✅ Allows your colleagues to connect with you as a whole person.

✅ When they can remember your family members by name, they may feel more gracious toward them when you need favors so you can invest in your family.

✅ Sharing select details of your personal life can encourage others to open up to you about theirs, giving you better insights on how best to serve them.

✅ If they also have a similar family situation, sharing stories can build mutual empathy.

Why not?

❌ If your family life is a regular source of pain for you, sharing those struggles too often can strain a relationship. Consider counseling from a professional or spiritual helper, and limit your discussions in one-on-ones to high-level generalities.

❌ If your family life is great, but those of your colleagues are not, be careful of one-upmanship or the appearance of superiority.

❌ If something about your family life would trigger a prejudiced response that puts your career at risk, then first of all, I’m sorry that you find yourself in that kind of a workplace. And second, you will have to make your own judgment call on the psychological safety in your environment and how vulnerable you can afford to be.

I suspect that almost everyone has some stories about their family that can enhance their relationships with their colleagues. And as long as you steer clear of the dangers, then there can certainly be benefit in talking about your family in your one-on-ones.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *