Top Taboo Topics You Should Never Discuss With Colleagues

In: How To

If you work in the office, you probably spend at least 8 hours a day side by side with your colleagues. So, there’s no surprise that many see their colleagues as their close friends. It seems okay to share your life events, your thoughts and emotions with someone you see almost every day, and many see nothing wrong in doing so. Nevertheless, at the workplace it’s highly important to keep boundaries between your professional and private life.

There’s a certain number of topics which should not be discussed at the workplace. Not only touching upon those subjects can damage your professional reputation, but it also can put under threat your successful collaboration with the company. See below which topics don’t belong to the workplace and stay on safe bets.

  1. Religious views.
    According to the common etiquette, discussing religion at the workplace isn’t the best idea. No forms of religion discussions are appropriate, from sharing your own religious views to asking about those of your colleague and giving your opinion on their belief. And, of course, it’s inappropriate to try to persuade anyone to convert, The Balance advices. The matter is that many people are very sensitive about their religious views. So, when you congratulate your coworkers with a religious holiday no one else celebrates or start debates about one of the world’s religions, it can totally spoil the atmosphere of common courtesy and tolerance within the team.
  2. Political views.
    As well as religion, political views should not be discussed at the office cooler. Political affiliation is another subject people take seriously and are unwilling to change their opinion about. So, don’t try to impose your point of view about the political situation to your coworkers: you’ll unlikely to succeed, while the relationships between the supporters of different parties may become tense. This tip becomes even more topical when in front of the upcoming elections.
  3. Sexual life
    this is one of the top taboo topics between you and colleagues. Why? First, it’s none of their business what happens in your sexual life. Secondly, put the other people in an awkward position by making them listen to details of what happens between you and your partner. Thirdly, by sharing such private facts, you’ll likely become a subject of gossip and this can harm your career in the long run.
  4. Family issues
    Do you have problems with your kids or spouse which are driving you mad and you can’t wait to share them with someone? Well, keep those stories for a qualified therapist as revealing your own inside stories at work isn’t a good idea at all. Not only you will become a hot topic for gossip but also these issues can question your authority if you’re a manager. So, avoid sharing personal issues with people who are not your good friends.
  5. Health problems
    Although speaking about healthy living, fitness and diets is totally okay, the situation changes drastically when it comes to discussing health issues. If you have some medical issue, don’t spread the details about it at the workplace. You can simply mention that you’re going to see a doctor or avoid this subject at all. If you need a sick leave, go ahead and ask for it; however, even in this case you’re not required to be overly detailed. The matter is, your manager and colleagues may wonder if your condition will be a problem for your fulfilling your responsibilities in full – so, don’t give them a reason to doubt.
  6. Your desire to change job
    Even if you see your current employment as a source of income to pay the bills until you find the better opportunity with your brand new resume, your coworkers should be the last people to find out about that. If you blurt it out to one of the colleagues and the boss finds out, it can question your loyalty and at the extreme cases you may be even asked to leave the organization much earlier – for example, you’ll be the number one candidate for dismissal.
    However, if you intend to get on more responsibility and want to build a career within the company, your boss should definitely be aware about that. Don’t speak about your ambitious plans too much until you’re finally promoted, though.
  7. Your attitude to one of your coworkers or boss
    The human factor matters, and obviously we don’t always like the people we have to spend 8 hours a day side by side with. However, disliking a colleague sometimes lead to sharing your opinion on someone with the other colleagues. By saying things like “He is stupid, I wonder how he is still working here”, or “This company sucks, I can’t wait to leave it”, you can, first of all, spoil the relationships with your colleagues which will negatively reflect on the workplace climate and productivity. Secondly, such statements can poorly reflect on your career and even become the grounding for you to be fired.

Top 5 phrases to stop saying right now

Just like during the interview, the workplace every word matters. And even if you avoid the touchy subjects and groundless judgments, you probably are still saying one of the below phrases which can totally ruin your professional image. So, check what shouldn’t be said at an office environment:

  • “I’m not paid for this” or “It’s not my responsibility”
    Let’s say one of the team members or even your boss asks you to help on one task while you’re already up to your ears in work. By saying “I’m not paid for that” you communicate your unwillingness to contribute to the common goal. If you cannot assist with something, try to communicate it differently. You can say something like “I can help you out on that, but then the urgent report you needed by 5pm would be completed by me only tomorrow”.
  • “There’s nothing I can do about it”
    Even when you need to inform your boss about your failure to fulfill some task assigned, avoid expressing the negative attitude. It describes you as a person who hasn’t bothered to try hard enough. Instead, it’s better to say something like “Would you mind discussing what can be done under these circumstances?” Forbes recommends.
  • “I think…” or “Maybe, the solution is…”
    Let’s face the fact that your boss doesn’t need any maybe. He needs clear results, and so does your team which works on the project with you. By using weak words, you demonstrate the lack of confidence and devalue your contribution to the result in general. The weak statements are especially dangerous for those working with customers or company partners.
    So, put your doubts aside and say something like “Based on the financial reporting, I am confident that…” or “I believe that our product will…”
  • “I don’t know”
    When your boss or coworkers ask you for some advice and receive such an answer, be ready that one day they will doubt your professionalism. Of course, you don’t have to know everything they might ever ask. However, you can always offer to discuss the situation again or to check how the other company acted in similar situation. In other words, offer the solutions, don’t be a “no” person.
  • “It’s unfair!”
    What if someone you’ve worked with at the project was recognized and got a bonus, and you didn’t. The situation is unpleasant, however, by moaning and spreading the rumors you won’t achieve anything. If you are confident that your contribution was ignored, you can present the facts to your boss or upper management.

As they say, speech is silver and silence is gold. Not every topic of conversation belongs to the workplace, so it’s better to discuss safe things such as music, movies, cuisine and hobbies with colleagues. Remember that your own words, especially when you discuss the private things, can be once used against you!

Did you know that it’s important to regularly update your resume even if you have a stable employment and do not plan to make a career move? By updating your resume at least twice a year you keep an inventory of your skills and track your career progress. So, you will see if your career develops in the way that you have planned and notice when it’s time to ask for promotion or look for a job with another organization.

Have you ever blurt out about private things at work or spread gossip? Did it lead to any consequences? 

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