9

At the moment I am going through a very stressing situation which is definitely not work related. Let me say it, my workplace is great, and my boss is a cool and sensible person.

I know the rule. That I should be professional and keep my personal life for me, but it is becoming harder and harder to separate the two. I feel like I have been giving less than I could do under normal circumstances. My boss never mentioned anything, but it is unclear to me whether this is because he understands there is something bad happening to me and does not want to double the pressure, or because he is actually fine with the work I have been doing.

Do you think it would be beneficial to make my boss aware of this situation?

  • I like the answer from rath. I think you should have a game plan to getting out out before sharing. – paparazzo Jul 2 '16 at 2:08
  • related, from some who didn't and had consequences: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/41941/… – Kate Gregory Jul 2 '16 at 10:37
  • What’s the problem with simply asking for some feedback? You feel like you’ve been giving less, but you haven’t verified. Is there a problem with just asking for a check-in? – user70848 Apr 10 '18 at 22:53
19

Summary: Depends on how long you think it'll take you to resolve the issue, and how noticeable the decline of your performance has been thus far.


I know the rule [...] I should be professional and keep my personal life for me

Since a personal issue is affecting your work performance that line has already been crossed. You have two options as far as I can see:

  • Say nothing and wait until it blows over

Your boss may or may not notice your performance decline. He might guess there's a personal issue you might be facing, and choose to ask you if everything's OK himself. If the performance drop is noticeable, it's best to preempt his checking in with you and go with option two:

  • Approach your boss about it

Hey boss, I feel I haven't been performing as well as [when I wasn't dealing with this personal issue]. I believe you might have noticed. I'm dealing with a personal issue at this moment, and [it's gonna be solved soon / I expect it to continue for a while]

Again, the line between professional and personal has been crossed. The professional thing to do at this point is let your boss know about it, so he may better manage his resources. He might even allocate you to a lower-priority task to give you some breathing space.


If the situation is likely to be solved in the near future I'd go with option 1, but that doesn't sound like it from the tone of your question.

Regardless of what you choose to do, once the difficulty is over I would thank him for his understanding

I've been unable to give 100% recently. This was due to a personal issue I was dealing with, which has now been taken care of. I apologise for this, and I'd like you to know I'm back in the game[, and ready to kick some ass].

  • 1
    Im not sure how TL:DR works. I tought was use when question was very long (Too Long Didnt Read). But looks like this time is used as warning your answer is very long (Too Long Dont Read it)? Anyway you still you get +1 – Juan Carlos Oropeza Jul 1 '16 at 20:59
  • @JuanCarlosOropeza Cheers. I guess I should've used Executive Summary since I'm on the Workplace, but yes, it's for people who can't be bothered to read long-ish answers. But it's not! It's actually a hook. You read the first sentence and think "Oh, that's the conclusion, I wonder what the rest of it is". At least that's how it works with me. – rath Jul 1 '16 at 23:40
  • I hate the use of TL:DR with a passion. It is insulting to the writer to think that you can't take the time to read what they wrote and it encourages simplistic thinking which is a huge problem because the world is actually complex. – HLGEM Apr 11 '18 at 14:57
  • @HLGEM But a tl;dr might set the perspective and tone of the answer before reading it. It's like knowing the ending of the book before reading it. One shouldn't search for "the answer" within the "answer" – workoverflow Apr 16 '18 at 6:50
  • @workoverflow Too many people commented on it so I took it out. It doesn't really matter if it's tl;dr, executive summary, synopsis, or the empty string. – rath Apr 16 '18 at 12:02
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+200

I know the rule. That I should be professional and keep my personal life for me.

That is indeed the rule, unless it affects your performance

Anything that affects your performance is a concern for management. The function of management is to expedite matters to ensure successful execution of duties and removing obstacles to that end.

When I was a project manager, I would say to my people. "Raise any concerns and come to me with any problems as soon as you discover them. Remember, before the deadline it's a "concern" after the deadline, it's an excuse."

The same thing applies to anything that affects your performance, and yes, this includes your personal life. Things happen off the job. People get sick, deal with cancer, the death of a loved one, finances, et cetera and it effects our performance.

When my uncle passed away, I went into work the next day and misspelled a coworker's name in a message. Then I sent another message and misspelled the word misspelled. Then I let my manager know what was going on and went home.

The time to approach your manager is now, and you can phrase it like this:

Hey, boss. I'm going through some problems in my private life right now, and I'm concerned that it might start to affect my performance. Could you please let me know if it does? I won't burdon you with the details. I just want to keep on top of things. Thanks.

Your boss may or may not inquire further, but you've made him aware of an issue. This sets the tone. He will likely let you know if he's already noticed something.

Taking this approach is very professional. Remember, being professional and being human are not mutually exclusive. Letting your boss know that you're having a problem is not unprofessional. It's being responsible, and being responsible IS being professional.

2

Unless you feel comfortable telling your boss about your personal life and getting counsel from them, you should keep it to yourself unless it is relevant to your work.


The personal life/work life split is really a personal choice, and while it's usually not recommended, you're entirely free to discuss your personal life with your boss if you feel they are a trustworthy individual.

But, this is entirely outside of whether or not you should tell them about it as part of your work. For a professional setting, there is only one situation where you should tell your boss about something in your personal life - if you know or anticipate that you will need time off for it.

Even if your boss directly asks if there is something going on in your life affecting your working conditions, you are not obligated to tell him - you can cite it if you do wish to and trust your boss with that information, but it is not professionally advisable to do so.


All of that being said - if you are experiencing a situation outside of the workplace that is causing you significant enough stress that it is affecting your work, you should consider seeking help to deal with this situation. If it is a personal issue that is taking up time and causing stress that is simply too much for you to handle at once, you could ask family or friends for help. If it is a situation causing you sufficient mental stress as to impede your work and social life, you might want to consider psychological help.

But, whatever help you seek, it should be dealt with outside of your workplace. Unless it somehow starts to affect you on the job (in which case, you can seek accommodations from your workplace to help mitigate the situation), or unless you wish to consult your boss as a friend and not as your boss, you need to deal with it yourself.

  • Deleted my answer in favor of this one, because this one has the same idea and is better stated. (Although, I would have appreciated a comment bs downvote on my previous answer.) – user70848 Apr 12 '18 at 0:01
  • @user70848 My apologies - I skimmed through the existing answers before posting this to see if it was duplicated anywhere, but I guess I didn't read yours carefully enough. – Zibbobz Apr 12 '18 at 13:47
  • No worries! Like I said, your answer is a better worded version of what I had to say. – user70848 Apr 12 '18 at 14:47
1

I think it depends heavily on the specifics of your relationship with your boss. The first thing to do is to analyze the real effect is has on the quality of your work. I know you said you have been giving less then you normally could, but is it making a distinct and substantial difference in your ability to contribute? I would say that, whatever your answer to this is, the actual effect is probably less noticeable than you think. It is easy to inflate understood shortcomings. In actuality, if you continue to approach your job with diligence and care, you will eventually return to a standard that you are happy with.

Unless you feel that your work under the current circumstances is going to cause an imminent negative reaction by management or the customer, it is best to keep the problem strictly in your personal life and continue focusing on doing good work.

Best of luck!

1

If your boss has not said anything about your performance, it may not be necessary to say anything. However if you feel that it is having a negative impact on your work it may be good to have a conversation with your boss. They do not need specifics about what your personal issues are, but instead I would make sure to acknowledge there is a issue with your performance and assure them that you are working on resolving it or making sure it doesn't get worse.

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