Professional Life vs Personal Life: Cell Phones & Internet

So much has been going on recently, it’s been difficult to find time for settling in to write my blog. Many different thoughts race through my mind through this move and some behaviors encountered, among friends, family, and co-workers. That’s not saying all are bad. But not all are good either. It’s truly left me reflecting on a lot.

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One area of topic definitely on my mind is professional etiquette. This is the behaviors expected in a work place or when being business like, exactly when professionalism speaks volumes about one’s work ethic and integrity. Of course, most people know the typical and cliche work behavior: don’t be a part of gossip, keep private life mostly to one’s self, limit personal calls, avoid cell phone distractions, and always show customer service.

What really occurred to me though is what about how to handle difficult circumstances and what is appropriate with cell phone etiquette in a day and age when most of your co-workers have access to your phone number. Sometimes, co-workers need to talk about issues and concerns, especially as training and aiding an employee. In some cases, that employee could be having difficulty and the two are attempting to express ways to help in those situations. Now, if you are in close quarters for work space and overhear any part of this conversation, that can definitely occur. However, it is not up to you to run to the other party and say something out of context and make it sound more than it was, especially if you are excused from the conversation area before it’s over.

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However, my main concern is that I’ve never been big on everyone at work having access to my cell phone in case they need something. There’s been jobs where I’ve needed to provide my cell phone number. Case in point, my last job I had no office for the first 6 months and worked from home. This means that my personal cell phone was my office number and I had clients in trauma situations and also staff calling me on it no matter what, even on my days off if I took a sick day or vacation day. Yes, this was difficult and yes, it caused some unnecessary drama in the personal life. I’m one who likes my personal life mostly kept separate from my private life. I’ve always been that way. Sure, I’ll share once I consider someone a friend, and maybe little comments about my personal life here and there even in casual interaction. But, mostly, I prefer to keep it out of work unless it’s something I desperately can’t shake and it’s not a major drama fest. Sometimes that just happens, e.i a bad phone call at lunch, an annoyed reaction to an email, or feeling a bit fatigued at the prospect of a weird thing at home, etc. Little things. Part of this too I’ve simply learned from experience and learned the hard way.

Now, with internet and social media, I would hate for anything questionable or even totally misunderstood about my personal life to hit the net. Gossip is not just limited to our little cliques or peers anymore. It spreads and especially in a small town such as where we live here. Therefore, I’m also quite cautious on who I befriend on Facebook, and exactly what I share online. It’s funny because once someone suggested I share way too much of what should be only in my diary online and this was a few years ago. I’ve cut way back and scaled back my access for others to find me online too since then, but yet my friends and those closest to me even say I only share really how great my husband is, or how happy I am about the holidays with family, or a job change, or a personal announcement like an engagement or Thirty-One Party, or even a new blog post both for myself or for the photography becoming a full-on multimedia experience business. Also, along with this, if I don’t know you, I probably won’t accept your friend request without asking you how I may know you. This is my privacy. And, again, it’s my personal life vs my professional life. For the most part, too, I am careful who I friend if co-workers try to friend me. My professional reputation is highly important to me and something I work hard to define.

But back to cell phones. I’m not wild about contacting co-workers outside office hours especially, unless there’s a friendship that is developing. To me, I feel like we’re actually at work far more than we are at home with our loved ones and that seems a bit backwards for me. Now, should the hubby’s business take off and we can truly partner with success in that area, I’d love spending time with him. Yet, even then I would want clear parameters and boundaries to what is professional and what is personal. So, when I receive a phone call about a work related situation by a co-worker who isn’t exactly a friend after hours or on the weekend, it does feel like an intrusion into my time with the hubby. Of course, I keep hearing, “Oh, you two will grow out of that wanting to be spending time together phase soon. You’re just newlyweds.” Well, I don’t want us to grow out of that. I love that we want to spend time together and work together and build that life together. Quality time is desperately needed and essential if you ask me in keeping romance and the love alive. You should in essence be marrying your best friend. Brent is indeed my best friend. So, why would I want to not give him attention as I should? Plus, if you call me after hours or shoot me a text full of drama about a work related situation, mainly even an accusation based on nothing but someone else’s gossip, it intrudes too on that wonderful quality time with my spouse. Because then, they are left to comfort me, to hear me vent, to hear me worry, to lose my attention and feel second place. And, in the home, that is the LAST place they should ever be. The same would go for children. I’d hate to miss out on precious moments because I brought work into my home life.

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So, using that as my own guide, I try not to intrude into my co-workers’ lives outside of the office unless invited. Even then I avoid discussing work related matters. If it’s because I think I heard from someone that someone was gossiping about me, I address it the next morning at work, especially after clearing my mind and calming down from what might feel hurtful or disappointing. Plus, I prefer going to the source, but on the terms of where our relationship is. If we’re friends, I confront on the personal level, home or during personal time. If we’re co-workers, I like to keep it at work. That’s not to say that I won’t make friends with co-workers and those know, I hope, by how I do include them as friends on Facebook and that I do share to call me if they need to. But even then, I have to know through networking and experience I can trust them, that my personal life will not be jeopardized through my professional life and vice versa.

Needless to say, let’s just remember that a cell phone is not meant to be an electronic leash to our peers from work, invading their personal life. Instead, it’s meant to be a tool if an emergency occurs or you need to reach them during work and they are on the road. Let’s all remember too that personal time is just as important as the time on the clock and needs to be respected and valued. Some of us still enjoy spending time with our loved ones in the evenings and just leaving work at the office. In a day and age where women feel overwhelmed in trying to balance everything in their lives, this little tidbit could be one way we help another feel less stressed and burdened.

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