I stepped out of my beautiful corner office the other day to listen to the chatter around the office and was disgusted with what I heard: people talking about their personal problems. I thought I was sitting in a therapist’s office.

Someone’s boyfriend dumped them, another person had a sick kid, and someone else was complaining about their car problems. Instead, I should have heard that someone closed a deal, another person completed a big project, and someone else was exploring ways to be more productive.

When I heard this personal chatter I was appalled!

Guess what–no one cares about your personal problems at work! Especially not me.

I will say this one time and one time only, the office is a place to work, not to share or vent about your personal issues. Getting too personal distracts from the point of work: working! Plus, don’t you have friends, family, a spouse, or significant other at home that you can bother? If not, get a dog.

No one cares about what you did over the weekend, your family struggles, or what’s happening at home. It only matters that you show up, push all those problems to the back of your mind, and get to work. Suck it up buttercup! There’s no place for personal problems in a professional workplace.

Why does this matter? Because bringing your personal issues to work impacts everyone. Personal problems are a major distraction.

We’ve all had those annoying coworkers who won’t shut up about their personal lives. When people spend too much time complaining about their problems or oversharing about their lives, it pulls everyone away from their work responsibilities.

Studies have found that almost half of employees admit their personal problems affect their workplace performance. This not only impacts their work metrics and productivity but also hurts their team members. Workers have to pick up the slack for a teammate who isn’t carrying their weight, which can cause their own performance to suffer. I don’t want my star employee who never takes a break and works 16 hours a day to get bogged down with someone else’s work. When one person brings their personal problems to work, it becomes everyone’s problems which means that everyone suffers.

And personal problems do more than just distract people from their actual jobs. They also cost the company money. The average gossip session lasts 15 minutes, which results in 65 hours of wasted time per employee per year. That’s more than the average person gets in PTO every year! Talking about your personal problems at work is really stealing from the company because you’re getting paid for work that isn’t getting done.

Let me do the math for you: if you have 100 employees with an average salary of $50,000 a year, gossip and personal problems cost you $1,562 per employee, or $156,250 total every year. That money could be spent in so many better ways, including adding to executive bonuses!

I’m not paying my employees to sit around and tell stories! I’m paying them to do their jobs.

No one cares about your problems at work. And if they do, they aren’t good employees.

Shut up about your personal life and get to work!

-The Outdated Leader


Over the last 15 years, I’ve had the privilege of speaking and working with some of the world’s top leaders. Here are 15 of the best leadership lessons that I learned from the CEOs of organizations like Netflix, Honeywell, Volvo, Best Buy, The Home Depot, and others. I hope they inspire you and give you things you can try in your work and life. Get the PDF here.