...Your Boss Is Getting Too Personal
What to say when your boss is getting too personal. Here's the situation. Your boss is about the same age as you are and you get along well, but she sometimes behaves more like a friend than a boss, for example, by talking about her own personal issues or problems at home. You listen politely and you don't reciprocate with your own stories, hoping she will get the message. You don't want to offend your boss, but you also want to keep it professional, so what should you do or say? Here's what you may be thinking and what not to say, "That's none of my business." Here's a solution. Don't assume she knows where your boundaries are or that hers are the same, or that she has clear boundaries for that matter. Sometimes what's appropriate to one is inappropriate to another. And it is your responsibility to educate your colleagues about where your boundaries are in a way that is assertive and clear without being offensive, patronizing, or condescending. So here's what you could say. "I know we...
get along well and we have a good working relationship, but sometimes the conversation goes into territory that is uncomfortable for me." You could approach it with curiosity and then say, "Are you aware of when that line is crossed? Or that what you're sharing is a bit too personal for a professional relationship, at least in my book." You could approach it with generosity and say, "Would you like me to tell you when I feel that line is crossed?" Or with humility, "I don't want to be rude but I'm not sure how to let you know when that happens. What is your preference?" Here's the over-arching idea. You have a right to set the boundaries between personal and professional relationship, but it is your responsibility to do so. Now, if that isn't your style, simply change the topic. Typically that suffices. Anything else sounds like an invitation to negotiate and you don't want that. Make sense?