Is Discussing My Girlfriend’s Work Too Personal?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about discussing an outside business within one’s workplace:

I was wondering if talking about your significant other to co-workers is crossing the line. For instance I was talking about my girlfriend and how amazing she is at photography. She has her own business and really does a great job! She is creative, talented, and her artistic vision is amazing. I spoke all of this to a co-worker (of the opposite sex) and the co-worker asked for a business card or way to see the photography. I handed over a card, thinking nothing was wrong with it. Did I cross the line of professional and personal? (note I work for a university, nothing in conflict of business).

Signed, Concerned

Dear Concerned:

I think your discussion about your girlfriend, followed by giving your coworker a business card when she asked for it, was fine. You apparently weren’t actively trying to sell something, nor were you talking about something intimate or very personal. You simply were discussing the talent of your friend and a coworker wanted to know more.One way to handle that in the future, if you are concerned about it, would be to give a coworker your girlfriend’s email address and tell the coworker she can contact her if she wants information about her website or address or whatever. Then, limit the amount of time you spend in the discussion, so the coworker doesn’t feel she was forced to listen to an infomercial!

You can be honest about why you’re doing it that way. “I don’t want you to think I’m pushing you to do business with her, so this way it’s up to you whether you want to find out more or not.”I think the card accomplishes about the same thing, but this way would work too.I also think the key to all situations like this is to be sure that your conversation is welcomed and that you are never keeping someone from something else just to talk to them about your friend. Also, be certain that the things you say about your girlfriend are focused on her work or general activities in which the two of your engage, rather than on your relationship or anything personal. It’s good that you are thinking about this kind of thing. As you know, many people do not. They just figure if they can rationalize it to themselves, that’s good enough. You’re taking the time to consider all the potential outcomes.Best wishes to you in your future!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.