Why You Need to Leave Your Problems at the Office Door

Jennifer Lopez

Some people have a strict policy of leaving their office at the office, and not bringing work problems home. But it’s also important that you learn how to leave your personal problems at home. Since you work closely with your coworkers for 40 or 50 hours a week, you might get comfortable with them and start venting about your personal frustrations. It might not seem like a big deal, but there are good reasons to leave your personal problems at the door.

1. You'll be the Debbie Downer of the office

Let’s start by saying that it’s perfectly normal for everyone to have those days when they want to vent their frustrations about life. We’ve all been there. But if you have a lot of problems in your personal life — whether it’s with your family, financial or other personal matters, work is not the place to bring up these issues.

If you have one or two close friends in the office, (which means you also have a relationship with these people after hours) they might be privy to things happening in your life. However, you shouldn’t make a habit of coming to work every day and giving your coworkers the play-by-play of different events, such as the fight you had with your spouse the night before. Depending on how often you talk about your personal problems, people in the office might start to view you negatively, and even classify you as a chronic complainer or a Debbie downer. You need to remember that everyone has problems and hardships. If your coworkers aren’t bringing their dirty laundry to the office, neither should you.

2. Nobody cares about your problems

Yes, this is a mean thing to say. But the reality is, if you don’t exactly have a close relationship with your coworkers, your personal problems are probably the last thing they want to hear about on a daily basis. To be polite, they might listen with a concerning smile on their face and nod their head in agreement. But if you’re long-winded or make a point of complaining every time you’re in someone’s company, people will start to tune you out, walk away as you approach, or silently wish for you to shut up and go somewhere else.

Your coworkers are there to work and make money, not be your therapist. They have their own problems to deal with, so they don’t need you bending their ears about what’s happening in your personal life.

3. It kills productivity

If you have a demanding job that requires a lot of your mental strength and energy, it is especially important that you leave your problems at the door. Every workday may involve a long list of assignments that have to be completed before you leave. Getting through these assignments requires that you’re on top of your tasks and that you don’t procrastinate. Unfortunately, when you bring outside problems into the workplace, this has an impact on your overall productivity because it kills your focus. If you’re worried or obsessing about a fight you had with your spouse earlier in the morning, this might stay on your mind all day and slow you down.

Problems are going to happen outside the workplace, but it’s important that you learn how to turn off your personal mind and go into work mode from the moment you step foot in that door.

4. You'll make more mistakes

Not only can bringing your personal problems into the office slow productivity and cause you to get behind schedule, there’s also the risk of making careless mistakes when your mind isn’t focused on your work. Mistakes cost your employer time and money. If your boss catches one of your mistakes, you’ll have to go back and make corrections, which takes time away from other assignments you have. And if you start making a lot of mistakes, your boss might start to question whether you’re capable of handling your workload, which could put your job in jeopardy.

5. Your business can spread like wildfire

Some people don’t have a filter. It doesn’t matter if things are going good or bad in their lives, they will tell their personal business to anyone who listens. If you’re this type of person, it’s important that you recognize the danger of being too open with your coworkers.

Since you work alongside your coworkers for several hours a day, five days a week, it might be easy to think of your coworkers as friends. But the truth is, if your interaction goes no further than the office and you don’t know a lot about their personal lives, they’re not your friends. And since they’re not your true friends, you shouldn’t put your full trust in them. No matter what’s going on in your personal life, if you start bringing your personal problems into the office and sharing details with others, your coworkers might start gossiping behind your back. In the beginning, you might only share your problems with one or two people. If you’re unable to leave your problems at the door, word about your struggles can spread fast, to the point where everyone in the office knows your personal business.

6. Coworkers might use this information against you

Since your coworkers are your colleagues and not your friends, there’s always the possibility that someone will stab you in the back. If you get into a habit of bringing up your personal problems in the office, one of your coworkers might use this information against you. Let’s say you let one of your coworkers know that you’re having problems at home with your spouse or your children. You might go into details, telling her that you cry yourself to sleep at night, and you may come to work stressed and frazzled.

Although you don’t think twice about being honest about your situation, putting into a coworker’s mind that you have too much on your plate might lead her to believe you’re emotionally unable to handle any additional stress. If the time comes to promote within the office, coworkers who are privy to your personal life might share your struggles with your boss and suggest that you’re not a good match or ready for a particular position. Even if it is true, this is for you to decide — not them.

Remember, some people will judge you based on what you do and say. And if they don’t know you that well, it’s easy for them to make a snap judgment and come to conclusions that aren’t necessarily true.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked for a company or how long you’ve had the same coworkers, it’s important that you learn how to leave your problems at the door. Go to work with the intentions of getting your assignments completed in a timely matter and giving your boss your all. Even if your coworkers make a habit of always sharing and providing details about their personal life, you don’t have to join in — unless of course you want to risk being ridiculed or unfairly judged. Besides, your personal problems will likely improve, but even if your situation gets better, your coworkers may only recall the bad.