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Too Much Information: How to Stop Oversharing at Work

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on July 07, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

We recently read an interesting article about office oversharing, and were slightly amused by the fact that many of the examples cited in the piece involved attorneys, or people who worked in law offices. In a survey of 514 corporate and professional employees, three in five stated that they work with someone who overshares at least once a week, according to the Wall Street Journal.

So that got us thinking, as someone running, or working at, a small law firm, what should an attorney do to stop office oversharing? Read on to find out.

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1. Lead by Example

As the lawyer in charge, you shape unwritten office policy -- that is, firm culture -- by your very own behavior. If you don't want to condone office gossip or oversharing, then you must not overshare either. The best way to shape firm culture is leading by example.

2. Visual Cues

If you're not setting firm policy, and just having to deal with TMI, then one way you can send a message that you are busy and don't have time for chatter is by giving visual cues. Wearing headphones is a great "do not disturb sign," or having your nose buried in a book, or brief, will also be a big hint.

3. Setting Boundaries

If your office oversharer is persistent in his attempts at wasting your time, you can simply tell them, "I'm really busy right now, maybe we can catch up later?" Or letting them know you are working on deadline and need to get something out the door.

4. Gentle Reprimand

If the problem persists, you may want to speak to the oversharer's manager to escalate the issue. If you are the managing attorney, you may need to set aside the oversharer and let him know that his job is not in jeopardy, but that he should try to resolve his issues outside the workplace. If the person is oversharing about personal problems, you may want to remind him that the office health insurance policy covers therapy.

Office oversharing can be distracting and lead to an unorganized, inefficient and unprofessional law firm. Be sure to set the tone that office oversharing won't be tolerated -- there's a time and place for everything -- and your law firm is not the place to vent personal problems.

Editor's Note, July 12, 2016: This post was first published in July, 2014. It has since been updated.

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