Problem solved – revealing personal life

One of my colleagues always asks me about my personal life after telling me about hers – when I don’t want to know. How can I stop her without causing offence?

There are certain lines that shouldn’t be crossed at work – and invasion of privacy is one of them. You may share grumbles about the photocopier, the coffee, or even the boss – but that doesn’t give your colleague the right to know every detail of your life outside the office.

Next time she tries to tell you about her own personal life, stop her in her tracks. People who always talk about themselves rely on most of us being too polite to shut them up.

As soon as she launches into the latest drama about her husband or children, interrupt insisting that you don’t mean to be rude but you absolutely must get on with whatever it is you are doing.

Use measured tones and friendly eye contact – then turn back to your screen or papers and tune out.

Should the exchange take place before work starts or at lunchtime (when you may be considered fairer game), make it clear that the magazine or website occupying your attention is a higher priority, declaring that you want to finish the article or webpage before ploughing on with your job. If you’re simply idling away a few minutes yourself and are feeling bold, suggest humorously that you’re not quite switched-on yet.

Snoops usually feign interest in their colleagues as an excuse to bat back with their own reports of domestic bliss or boredom. Your blatant lack of interest may reduce the questions fired in your direction – but should they persist, be blunt. Invent a revelation that’s so shocking, she’ll be unlikely to stray into personal territory again – but ensure it’s not so tantalising that it swiftly becomes office folklore.

"Use measured tones and friendly eye contact – then turn back to your screen or papers and tune out"