Sharing personal stories with your colleagues might, at first, seem like one of the most unprofessional things to do at your workplace. Besides, the work environment, for some, sounds like the last place you’d want to open up and share tales about your personal failures, challenges, difficulties, and past experiences.
Fair enough. But, here’s the thing – the fraction of people currently doing this is higher than you imagine. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it applies to all types of workplaces.
Psychologists at Rice University in Houston, Texas recently published a report analyzing 65 different studies on stigmatized identity. It reveals, among other things, that opening up about your personal details – like religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, and past experiences – might understandably be difficult, but all in all, it essentially improves relationships with colleagues.
If you still think it feels odd, additional research studies on the matter suggest that telling stories is actually an intrinsically critical component of human life. Not just social relationships.
It’s basically what you rely on to define your world. Storytelling is helpful in not only solving struggles and challenges but also developing relationships with people around you. So, of course, sharing personal stories is one thing you might not be able to avoid over the long haul.
As a matter of fact, when you come to think of it, you’re naturally curious about your colleagues’ lives. You’d want to know what they are up to when they are not at work, what they like, what they hate, where they come from, etc. And that’s totally normal.
That said, it’s worth noting that sharing personal stories isn’t always about you. Although you might not notice it at first, it progressively impacts your entire company. With time, you’ll get to grow closer to your colleagues, and subsequently, cultivate stronger ties in the workplace. That’s how you slowly develop a Hufflepuff company culture.
But that’s not all. Here are 5 ways sharing personal stories will impact your company culture:
1) Improves Communication Skills
Regardless of the type of work you do, your overall efficacy is substantially dependent on how you relate with your colleagues. Every single company relies on collaboration to seamlessly achieve its collective objectives. And that’s impossible without great communication.
While there are many ways to improve workplace communication, sharing personal stories is exceptionally effective. Each story you tell goes beyond the typical workplace talk and helps you connect with your colleagues at a much deeper level.
From the resultant strong bond you develop, you’ll notice that communication gets easier on a gradual basis. Ultimately, you’ll be able to speak freely with anyone, which in turn boosts your overall collaboration abilities.
Such communication skills even make you more marketable as an individual. A 2018 survey of about 1,000 employers established that great communication skills top the most critical elements considered while hiring new employees.
2) Creates a Great First Impression
The first impression is the reason why everyone attempts to dress well for job interviews. How people perceive you when they first meet you forms a long-lasting opinion about your overall character and personality. In short, therefore, the first impression you create at your new workplace determines how your colleagues will treat you moving forward.
If you’d like to appear as a trustworthy and open individual right off the bat, you need an approach that connects well with your colleagues. Sharing personal stories is a particularly clever way of going about it.
When you’re first introduced to your colleagues, be imaginative and narrate personal details that demonstrate your best qualities. This will help you break the awkward atmosphere, and your new colleagues will find you to be an interesting workmate they can easily collaborate with.
3) Reinforces Your Network
The expansive network of acquaintances you progressively develop with time significantly contributes to your career success. Although it’s always a good idea to keep cultivating a relationship with everyone in your network, you can’t possibly bond with your work colleagues, former classmates, and friends all the time. Yet you need them to expand your network further, as well as grab any arising career opportunities.
Sharing personal stories will help you seal that loophole. By letting your colleagues learn about issues they wouldn’t otherwise figure out, they’ll increasingly grow fond of you. Plus, they’ll get to understand your goals and what you seek in life.
Consequently, you can bet they’ll always think of you even after you’ve left the company. And from that alone, you might land a few great opportunities courtesy of them.
4) Creates a Better Feedback Environment
Constructive criticism is always a part of workplace collaboration. It helps you figure out your weaknesses, develop your job skills, as well as grow holistically.
The thing with constructive criticism, however, is that it requires a genuine feedback framework. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to pinpoint the precise areas that might be holding you back.
Sadly, creating such an environment within the workplace is not that simple. Most people tend to avoid criticizing their colleagues, fearing that conflicts could possibly arise and damage their relationships.
The bond that comes from sharing personal stories is effective at solving this problem. When you continually open up to your colleagues, you’ll gradually eliminate any awkward social barriers in your relationship. As a result, they’ll perceive you as a genuinely honest and open individual.
And with that comes trust and familiarity. So, eventually, you’ll give them the confidence to give you genuine feedback without feeling uncomfortable. And that translates to better collaboration, as well as consistent personal growth.
5) Improves Your Workplace Mood
Work isn’t always fun. It can be stressful and even cause fear too, especially when you work in a fast-paced environment. Something as small as a snippy email or a tedious task could be enough to set you off.
That’s why you might occasionally feel the urge to take some time off, and probably go for a vacation or something. But, since such wishes rarely materialize, the end result is usually a dull mood in the workplace.
Now, admittedly, we don’t have control over some of the typical workplace challenges. But, we can manage how we handle it, especially when it comes to emotions.
If you happen to find yourself in a bad mood at work, you can let off some steam by sharing personal stories with your colleagues. Even a quick small talk could considerably help you calm your nerves, lighten up your mood, and give you the peace of mind you need to focus on your job.
6) Helps Solve Personal Problems
We all face challenges in life. That’s pretty normal. And people have different ways of handling them. While some have the strength to manage multiple problems at once, others fall into depression fairly quickly.
That notwithstanding, one thing’s for sure. That the load gets lighter when you share. In other words, a problem shared is a problem halved.
So, you might want to let your colleagues in when you’re going through a difficult time. You could be surprised by how much they empathize, and subsequently, commit to helping you out.
Besides, it goes without saying, that the faster you solve a personal problem, the quicker you’ll regain your focus in the workplace. And of course, the better you’ll be able to collaborate with the rest.