I used to work with a woman for whom no subject was off-limits. She thought nothing of sharing her personal problems, and often asked questions that many of us found to be invasive. She was also fond of bathroom humor and was just generally constantly oversharing. She was a nice lady, but her behavior was very off-putting sometimes.
I think of her when I think of the fifth rule of civility: “I will honor the boundaries and views of others.” This woman had no boundaries. On the one hand, I admired her confidence. On the other, I felt uncomfortable being privy to things about her personal life that weren’t any of my business. And it’s one thing for you to be open about your life, but another to expect everyone to be the same way. She couldn’t understand why not everyone else wanted to join her in talking about their marriages or personal problems. Discreet was just not in her vocabulary.
Another person I worked with was a huge gossip-hound. She would often tell stories about the other people in the office. She never had a good word to say about anyone, it seemed. When she caught me by myself, she’d often strike up a conversation about so-and-so and ask me leading questions to get more fodder for the rumor mill. Finally, I had to tell her that I made it a point not to engage in gossip, and that I hoped she respected my boundaries. From then on, she never bothered me—though who knows if I became the target of her gossip?
You are who you are. You believe what you believe. Just don’t expect others to feel the same way. If they don’t, respect that they may consider certain topics off-limits, and don’t try to push their buttons.