Should you tell your co-workers that you are getting a divorce?

Divorce brings with it a lot of uncertainty, stress and drama. 

That’s a recipe for being upset, and it may show in how you are acting at work. Still, do you tell your co-workers that you are divorcing? What about your manager?

There isn’t just one answer here, but if you want to survive the divorce with less drama, keeping it quiet for as long as possible may be helpful. As hard as it can be, you need to be straight with yourself about why you want to involve your co-workers.  

These are your colleagues, and that can be different than friends. Furthermore, talking about personal problems at work can cut into professional time, and that may endanger your position. Here are some simple ways to determine what you should say, when you should speak up, and who you should talk to. There may even be cases where you should ask your divorce lawyer for advice.

Co-workers know your partner

If your work life and home life are close enough that many people know your spouse, you may have no choice but to tell people what is happening. You can still keep it as private as possible by sharing very little information. It may be easier to tell a few colleagues and let it leak out than to try to hide it.

Even if your spouse isn’t well-known to your office coworkers, perhaps they see your Facebook page. This may reveal the situation without you saying a word. Perhaps you could share a limited amount of information and stay ahead of any big reveals on social media.

Your work life and home life are completely exclusive

When work and home life are completely exclusive, you have much more leeway to keep everything private. For now, let’s call it a good thing, but there are times when privacy can backfire on you.  

Where are you in the divorce cycle?

For many people, the stages of divorce mirror the stages of grief. Anger and denial can be long-lasting stages. You may be angry with your spouse, yourself, or the situation. You may be desperate for someone to listen to your side of the story, and you may feel the need to tell it again and again.

At some point, you may move on to another part of the separation-divorce cycle. It is important to remember that you may wish you had never shared your feelings.  That is not to say you should suppress your feelings! Rather, you should find the appropriate friend or therapist who can help.  

What is your motive?

Many people talk about their divorce just to trash their spouse. Whether you are hurt, angry or both, it’s understandable to want to lash out. In a sense, however, the divorcing person can be their own worst enemy. Essentially they are talking to talk, and that turns into office gossip.  

On the other hand, if your motive is to find comfort with friends in the office, that’s a good reason. You deserve to be comforted and to let off some steam. 

Is there something you need? You may think about what you want to accomplish. Perhaps you need advice on dealing with your children, finding a good lawyer, or learning how to live on your own again. You may naturally seek out colleagues who have been in similar situations.  

What is the office culture like?

Office politics can be crystal clear. It may be obvious who is in the know, who is well liked by the boss, and who is on the outs. In cases like this, you should be able to gauge whether it is smart to discuss your problems with colleagues.  

Unfortunately, some office politics are unclear. You may be uncertain about who you can trust. That’s a good instinct.  You should watch your words and think carefully about who you want to confide in.

Should you tell your boss? 

Is your boss a big gossip? A major manipulator? A jerk? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may want to delay that as long as possible. You should look at your human resources rules, if your company is big enough, and see if there is any help there.

Hopefully, your boss is the sort of person who will be on your side. Telling him or her early could help. Many people going through a divorce don’t realize how they appear to others. It may be very obvious that you are depressed, frazzled or distracted. Once your boss knows why, it’s possible that you could get help with time off or lighter work loads.  

Are you functioning?

Divorce-induced depression or anxiety can cause a person to shut down. They may lose interest in work or simply daydream the hours away without realising it. If you find you’re not functioning, try to take time off. If that doesn’t work or you can’t get time off, you may need to talk to the boss.  

During a divorce, you do need help from your co-workers and boss, and you deserve it. It’s just smart to tread carefully.

Taking things slowly will help you make wise decisions about bringing the drama of your personal life into the office. 

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