Last month I wrote an article which pondered how one might network like Kate. I discussed how it is important to be mindful of the very basics such as posture, approachability, and dress. In response, one of you dear readers brought to light a very important question and one I have often thought of myself. Therefore, I thought it would be prudent to delve into this topic a little further.
Indeed it is a delicate balance to strike! One of the many things I admire about Kate is the way she is able to come across as personable yet reserved. She seems to do this with such a finesse that goes practically unnoticed. Using Kate as our role model, how can we accomplish, and conquer, the above work quandary?
To maintain a private life in the workplace, one must stay away from known gossiping colleagues and not be tempted to be pulled into their banter. These type of colleagues generally have a high tendency to reveal much of their own personal life and may find it difficult to keep yours private. You may feel welcomed, even pressured, to reciprocate and share your own personal stories. Don’t be tempted and politely deflect from sharing.
Of course, becoming personable with colleagues has its own share of benefits. I’ve worked on a team of eight people for the past three years and feel very comfortable with them. We share aspects of our personal life and even the occasional cocktail after work. However, I trust this group of people. It is that trust, which I know they feel as well, which enables us to work so well together and accomplish so much.
I would be inclined to believe that this Kate’s modus operandi as well. She is likely selectively intimate with those that she immediately works with and recognizes individuals that need more careful handling.
Take An Interest In the Person
One of the reasons why the Duchess comes across as private yet responsive is because she takes more of an interest in those around her rather than entertaining all of the focus on herself. The studies are out there: people love to talk about themselves. In fact, Harvard neuroscientists have even said that it feels so rewarding, we can’t help but share our thoughts. If you want your colleague to walk away with the feeling that you’re extremely personable, while maintaining your private life, get them to talk about themselves! Additionally, make them feel important. Give your colleague honest compliments and ask for their advice. Think about how you would feel if you got in the elevator with the Duchess tomorrow and she complimented you on your shoes and asked where you got them from. You would probably walk away from that brief interaction absolutely delighted!
Choice of Topic
There are many topics which should be generally avoided at work and it happens that these are the ones which provide the most insight into our personal lives. You can view a full list here. Some of the most common ones that one can easily get pulled into are conversations on religion, politics, and matters of the heart (Example: you just broke up with your significant other). Avoid those conversations. Instead, engage in conversation that will still allow you to be warm and personable but modest; such as a great book you just read, the fabulous sale at (insert favorite store here), or the garden that you just planted. Kate is a pro at keeping the conversation neutral so that is it not uncomfortable.
Speaking of gardening, some people certainly like to dig in the dirt and it’s not necessarily to plant something beautiful! The Duchess knows this all too well and the paparazzi will grab onto whatever they can. Kate doesn’t maintain a Facebook (that we know of!) or a verified personal Twitter account. Without maintaining social media accounts, Kate saves herself from the seemingly inevitable Twitter “slip-ups” that even you and I can succumb to. However, for us, while this isn’t as practicable, it is equally important that we are mindful of what we post on social media. While you may not be overtly sharing your personal life at work, a resourceful co-worker may find your tweets that give away much, much more than you had intended. So clean-up what you can, lock down what you feel is needed, and for anything which remains public, view it with a very discerning eye.
I’d love to hear what you think! What are some of the ways in which you feel Kate maintains her private life yet does not appear as standoffish?