The Balance of Need versus Want
There is a difference between a need to know and a want to know. Over 59 million people follow Kim Kardashian West on Instagram By comparison, Kim has more followers than the population of the largest US state, California is close to 40 million and many countries, like Argentina, Spain, Taiwan and Canada, Spain are all below 50 million in population. Obviously, there are people who are curious about what happens in her life and they have “a want to know.”
This proliferation of social media and accessibility to information blurs the lines between personal information and what is relevant for work. A friend on short term disability struggled with what to say about his absence at work. Hospital staff advised him to say, “I am out for a medically required procedure.” It took away the need to explain. Elegant in its simplicity, such a statement tends to shut down further discussion. People understand there is no further comment. While there may be a curiosity with a “want to know,” there is not “a need to know.”
Yes, there are instances where there are valued friendships in the workplace and some environments lend themselves to be more open than others. It is all a matter of choice about what to share. And that’s what it should be, a choice. Use caution as not to be lulled into detailed revelations because some societal norms trend towards minutia for public consumption. Once the information is out there, it is out there and no longer in your control. It’s really a personal choice and ultimately yours to balance between the need to know and the want to know.