Finding A Cure for O.S.D. – Obsessive Sharing Disorder

(via // Illustration: Kim Carney)O.S.D., or obsessive sharing disorder – that’s what author and coach Peggy Klaus calls people’s growing tendency to offer up too much personal information at work. In this past Sunday’s issue of The New York Times, she extrapolated that this over-sharing is likely an extension of online behavior or, alternatively, the need to connect in a disconnected world. Klaus points out: Since we spend so much time at work these days (likely as much if not  more time than at home), it’s no wonder we look to  forge close connections with co-workers — and that ultimately blurs the line between professional and personal boundaries.

So, is there a cure for this common ailment (particularly among the Gen Y set)?  Yes!

In “Be Your Own Best Publicist,” we address the challenges of managing your personal brand both on- and off-line.  So, here are some things to remember when considering whether to share or remain silent about your personal life:

  • Who do you think you’re talking to? Just like our recent post about griping about past employers online — think about what the right forum is to share personal information, whatever it entails. Probably not a good move to share your personal issues with a boss or client,  lest they think those distractions will hinder your ability to do the job. Even offering up those private thoughts or questionable choices to co-workers could significantly affect your trajectory at work, so consider your audience before plowing ahead. We recommend holding your tongue –and comments– until you’re outside the workplace (and with trusted friends or family), just to be safe.
  • Will it help or hinder?  Remember that nowadays, in particular, everything you say or post can and will be used “against” you. Whenever we are communicating with a client or a media person, we consider the impact of our words because once a statement or sentiment is out there, it’s impossible to take back (ahem, Congressman Akin!).  Ever try to hit the recall button on a email?  Exactly.  Consider your words carefully in advance. Ask yourself: Will what I say move the situation forward?  How will it color the way my conversation partner perceives me?
  • When in doubt, leave it out. Wondering whether you should share the story about your crazy weekend in the Hamptons or perhaps some details about a love affair gone wrong? Less is more — particularly in the workplace.  Editing yourself can be the hardest, yet most valuable skill you can learn whatever your career. We all need to hit the pause button once and a while. Consider your goals and key messages before blurting any old thing out. General rule of thumb: When in doubt — you got it — LEAVE IT OUT.

How do you deal those “suffering” from O.S.D. in your life?  Tell us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.




How to Avoid Simple Career Mistakes

In an interview we did with personal branding expert Dan Schawbel for our blog, he said that he’d recently “received the worst PR pitch…ever seen. Instead of saying ‘Dan, would you be interested in interviewing the CEO of XYZ,’ they made it very impersonal and said ‘Hi [FIRST_NAME|Colleague].’ What this does is notify me that I’m on their list without permission, that they didn’t take the time to speak to me personally and that they are careless.”

Everyone makes mistakes but when you’re trying to impress people in the workplace, you want to do your best to avoid those that are simple to sidestep.  Here are a few tips to dodge common errors that can derail your career goals:

1. Check your work (twice!): In our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist, we share multiple stories of people who made careless mistakes that cost them a potential job. One anecdote we didn’t include in the book is about a young woman who interviewed well in person and put a lot of effort into her writing/editing test, which was printed out in color and hand-delivered to Jessica’s office. Only problem: She forgot to proofread her work, along with the “press release” she wrote to go along with it, the headline of which read, “[Her name] Hired as Publicity Maganger of Heast Magazines.” She obviously hadn’t spell-checked because as far as we know, the words “maganger” (we assume she meant “manager”) and “Heast” (instead of Hearst, the company where Jessica runs PR) are not found in the dictionary. Lesson: Before you send an important letter, presentation or memo, ask someone else to proofread it. If you can’t get another person to review your work, set it aside for a while and then look at it with fresh eyes. You’ll be amazed at what you might catch on the second round. Reading it aloud also helps you catch mistakes in grammar and style.

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On Your Permanent Record: The Importance of Managing Your Digital Legacy

When visiting the pristine Galapagos islands, the guides warn you to “Take nothing (but photos); leave nothing (but footprints).” It’s clear why: Photos will provide the memories; footprints will not make a permanent impact on the precious environment.

However, when it comes to your digital footprint — the impression you make with photos, postings, tweets, sharing, etc.– it is anything but fleeting.

In fact, The New York Times recently wrote about people’s digital after-life — a presence that lasts long after they’ve shuffled off their mortal coil.

Personally, we’ve had Facebook friends who’ve passed only to re-appear periodically on the “Reconnect with” rotation of the site. Often, the person’s Facebook page, Twitter feed or blog become a makeshift digital memorial for mourners to share memories and notes of sympathy for the loss. We’ve also stumbled upon links to wedding websites (replete with images and musings) for someone who, sadly, is no longer with us.

Disconcerting? Maybe, but this seeming life-after-death underscores the importance of how we manage our digital profile in the here and now. Here are some simple rules of thumb to make sure your life and legacy are well represented online:

1. Educate yourself. According to a poll by Mashable, over 45 percent of HR people are now actively reviewing candidates’ social media profiles prior to extending the offer. Having too small of a presence could be as detrimental as being over-exposed. Not all online opportunities are created equally.  Be clear about what you want to accomplish and the people with whom you want to connect to determine the right vehicles for your social media profile.  For example, some professions consider LinkedIn is the site of choice. For others, it may be more effective to be up and running on Twitter.   However, if being online is simply a way to find out what family and friends (or old flames) are up to, Facebook (or its more intimate upstart Path) tend to be the select sites du jour.

2. Edit yourself. Kanye West is a cautionary tale — the good things you say and do can often be obscured by flippant, nonsensical or plain ridiculous comments. Putting it in “real people” terms, think before hitting “post” or “send.” Equate your status to an expensive billboard in Times Square; don’t just throw any old thing up there. And, don’t just shoot out an off-the-cuff missive in the heat of a moment. A seemingly innocuous but snarky comment about your breakfast, work or a friend could have long-term effects on your career, relationships or reputation.

3. Check yourself. Whether you’re writing an email or an important document, we encourage people to employ the “second set of eyes” rule. By asking someone else to review a written missive for tone or typos, you can save yourself hours of stress or embarrassment. Or, if you don’t have an eagle-eye editor at your disposal, try hitting the pause button before sending. Draft the note or document and put it aside for a few hours — even a day. When you come back, read it out loud to ensure that it a) reads well and b) that your intention/tone comes across appropriately. If it does, it probably means that what you’re putting out into the digital realm is something that you’ll be okay representing you, even after you’re gone.

4. Protect yourself. While the trend towards collaboration and crowd-sourcing is commonplace, it is also important to make sure your ideas and information are protected. How do you know what’s already out there?  Run a search on yourself and keep alerts for when your name and likeness come up.  Moving forward, monitor your security settings on a regular basis, encrypt information that is particularly sensitive and be judicious about sharing highly detailed personal information (especially via location-based sites such as FourSquare, Yelp and Gowalla) online.

What do you want your digital legacy to be?  Share it with us here, on Facebook or on Twitter (@BestPublicist).