Managing Director of Links International
I have had personal problems lately. I don't really want to share the details of my private life with my colleagues but my problems have started to affect my work performance. My boss suggested I take a few days off, but I don't know if that's a good idea. I'm also worried that people will gossip about me when I'm gone. Also if I can't hold my emotions in check at work, it will make me look unprofessional. Should I take time off? What if it doesn't help? As nice as my boss is, I don't think he can hold my position forever.
Debbie Matson - Career Doctor
Posted Saturday 19th October 2013 02:09:00 AM
Dear Emille Most people have personal problems that from time to time distract them at work. If your problems are so serious that they affect your ability to function personally and professionally, then you may want to seek professional help. For life's regular, inevitable distractions, it is important to consider your behavior at work and what you are willing to share with your colleagues and your boss. You are asking good questions. Let's discuss your situation and then cover a few general points. Your boss has suggested you take a few days off. I think you should. The boss has obviously noticed your distress and may feel it needs to be handled away from the office. The break will be a good chance for you to pull yourself together and consider how you want to behave while working through your personal issues. In addition, if you do need professional help, a short break will give you time to evaluate that option. In the long term your boss does not want to be involved in your problems. He is offering the leave option either out of compassion or because your behavior and attitude are factors within the workplace. How much to share with your colleagues is another important question. There are several factors to consider. If you talk about personal issues too much with too many people, you may create an image of yourself as someone with problems, rather than a productive, value added member of the team. Of course, if you have a close friend at work, you can share an issue if it is important, but don't share with everyone. You don't want to solve a problem and find out that it has become part of your label at work. I wouldn't worry about people gossiping about you. That is their problem not yours, unless you (through your words and behavior) give them something to talk about. Loud phone conversations with estranged spouses, bursting into tears and tantrums do not belong in the office. Even if you are in personal pain, you need to try and exercise self-control. Overall, my philosophy is that problems should be left at the door. Your energy and effectiveness at work are a direct result of your attitude and the message you send. Also, you may help yourself to feel better if you try and behave in a positive manner. Of course, big problems don't just go away because you are acting happy, but your response to your problems and ability to manage your life may improve if you pretend to feel happy. It can be a little bit of a self-fulfilling loop. I hope that overtime you feel better about yourself and have an easier time managing your emotions at work.