During this time period in particular, people are experiencing so many personal troubles at work and in life. When the world around you is stressful, the troubles you experience increase. But, who should you turn to for support when you are in a troubling time? New research shows that telling leaders about your personal troubles might put them in a negative mood at work. When and how should you share personal troubles with your boss? Learn more below!

Leaders are Often Able to Provide Help with Personal Troubles

Why would employees turn to leaders for help with personal troubles? Leaders generally tend to engage in two types of behaviors. The first set of behaviors is task-related. This means that leaders should spend time supporting you in completing your job responsibilities. The second set of behaviors is relationship-oriented. Leaders should also spend time getting to know you as a person and building a strong bond with you. So, generally, leaders shouldn’t just focus on business. They need to know who employees really are, in order to lead them well.

However, when leaders spend time getting to know their team, their team members may share personal information with them. This information can sometimes be positive, like good news or a story about a fun weekend activity. But, employees may also be likely to share negative news, like relationship conflicts or sad life occurrences. Because leaders are generally a good source of support in the workplace, employees are likely to turn to them for help. Plus, being authentic at work improves well-being, so hiding struggles may not feel as good as sharing them.

Leaders are supposed to build strong relationships – but you can be considerate about putting your troubles on blast!

Sharing Personal Troubles Can Cause Problems for Leaders

While there are positive benefits for employees who feel supported by leaders, less research has been done examining the impact on leaders. In other words, we know that followers benefit from being able to share personal troubles. But, we don’t know how hearing about all of those troubles impacts leaders. It makes sense that hearing about a lot of other people’s troubles might make leaders feel more negatively. It’s tough to take on the emotional burden of hearing about bad things in others’ lives.

Unfortunately, research shows that hearing other people’s troubles puts leaders in a more negative mood. So, sharing them with your leader may not be the best thing for their well-being. However, there are a few things that might make the situation better. Leaders who help with tasks are even more negatively affected by helping with personal troubles. That is, if your leader spends time helping you with work, sharing personal troubles will make them feel worse. But, the impact of sharing personal troubles is lessened if the leader really feels that they helped you a lot. In other words, if they know their help was effective, sharing is less likely to lead to a negative mood.

If you’re sharing personal troubles with your leader, make sure you haven’t asked them for help in other areas as well.

What Should You Do to Be More Considerate of Your Leader?

First, it’s really important to make sure that you’re thinking about your leader’s well-being too. While you may find relief in sharing your personal troubles with your leader, it’s key to recognize that others might be feeling the same way. Reaching out to your leader to let them know that you want to share some personal issues ahead of time might help. That way, they can find a time to meet with you that won’t overlap with other meetings that are based around personal troubles.

Second, try to make sure that you’re not asking your leader for tons of help with work on the same day you try to tell them about personal troubles. If you can save your discussion for a day in which you have been fairly independent, you’ll help your leader to preserve a more positive mood. Finally, once you do share your personal troubles, make sure to tell your leader how much it means to you. You might also follow up to let them know if you took their advice and what the outcome was. That way, they can clearly see that what they did was helpful, decreasing the negative outcomes associated listening to your troubles.

This is a troubling time for all of us! But, it’s important to try to be considerate of your leader at this time too. Even the strongest leaders still need to be treated with compassion! We have talked about the importance of support for dealing with tough issues at work before. How have you approached talking to your leader about personal troubles during this time?

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