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May 26, 2008


When Fridays get too casual

The critics of casual Fridays said this would happen.

First it was casual office attire. Then inappropriate conversation followed closely behind those jeans and flip-flops.

I am amazed and appalled at what my co-workers feel is okay to talk about in the workplace. Most of us have worked with annoying, overly chatty people who never seem to shut up. It can be a nightmare when you have to share a small office with them and listen to every minute detail of their personal lives, whether you want to hear it or not.

As America becomes increasingly casual, it seems that there are very few subjects which are off limits in the workplace.

I may be opinionated, but I do not share the intimate details of my life with my co-workers. Nor do I feel the need to shout. Those who insist on talking at full volume are just as obnoxious as those who want to tell all.

In our oh-so-casual culture, we treat everywhere we go as an extension of our living room, or worse. People who share the details of their sex lives, or their drinking benders, or their daughter’s recent sexual assault, are treating their co-workers like willing participants in a group therapy session, which would be fine if we were in one. Unfortunately, the people who are guilty of such behavior are almost never in therapy, individual, group, or otherwise.

The way Americans communicate in and out of the workplace has changed over the last twenty years. Is technology to blame? Or is it the breakdown of values and standards in our culture? With the infiltration of cell phones, text messaging, and voice mail, we are far less communicative than we think. It’s ironic that having an actual conversation with someone over coffee is often perceived as a self-indulgent luxury.

People who insist on talking about their latest sexual escapades in public insist that they are exercising their freedom of speech. So do people who feel the need to call their significant other to discuss whether they should purchase red or green grapes. I say, if you need to consult someone on what to buy in a supermarket, perhaps you shouldn’t be in charge of the household shopping.

I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

       — Copyright Nancy Muldoon 2008