Some conversations don’t belong in the workplace, or at least they should not take place between coworkers who aren’t also close personal friends. Certain topics could make things awkward and even unpleasant for you and your coworkers.
You should always, for example, stay away from discussions that may become fodder for the office grapevine with you as the primary focus. You should also avoid revealing personal information that might negatively influence your colleagues’ perceptions about your ability to do your job effectively.
Discussing controversial subjects can also get you into trouble with your coworkers.
Here are five topics you should seriously consider crossing off your list of things to discuss with your coworkers. Safe topics, if you were wondering, include movies, music, and food (especially if you bring some to share). Of course, you can also discuss ways to do your job better.
While religion seems to be discussed everywhere, from the campaign trail to the sports field to the awards ceremony stage, it is a topic that does not belong in the workplace. Do not discuss your own religious beliefs and avoid sharing your opinions about others’ beliefs or lack thereof. You should definitely never try to persuade anyone to convert.
Faith is a very personal thing about which people are often sensitive. This doesn’t mean you should hide your religion or shouldn’t be proud of it, but realize not everyone worships the same way you do.
Your coworkers likely don’t want to hear that you disagree with them about this or that you believe your religion is the right one for everyone.
People can also be very touchy about their political affiliation. Avoid getting into lengthy conversations about this topic at work. While you may feel very strongly about your party or the candidate for whom you plan to vote, or you may have a negative opinion of the opposition, do not try to win your coworkers over to your side. You aren’t likely to succeed, and your efforts will just cause hard feelings between you and them.
Problems with your spouse, your children, or your parents
If you need to discuss your problems with someone, talk to a trusted friend, or better yet, a therapist. When you discuss issues you are having at home, your coworkers and your boss may question whether they will distract you from doing your job. If you are a supervisor or manager, discussing your problems may also reveal your weaknesses to your subordinates. This can undermine your authority.
Also, enumerating problems you are having with your family will feed the rumor mill, making you the subject of workplace gossip. Do everything you can to avoid becoming the talk of the office.
Your career aspirations
You may consider your current job a stepping stone to bigger and better things. That’s a great aspiration, but talking about your ambitions will certainly, for good reason, make your boss and coworkers question your loyalty.
If you are interested in moving up within your current organization, you should do your job exceptionally well, and of course, let your boss know you want to move up through the organization’s ranks. Your actions will speak for you. Just don’t make it the topic of workplace conversations with anyone who will listen. If your plans for the future include leaving your current job in order to advance, don’t announce that until you are ready to make your move.
Your health problems
If you have a chronic illness or any medical issue, don’t dwell on it too much at work. Doing so will give your coworkers and boss a reason to wonder if your condition will keep you from doing your job well. If you need to take sick leave from work, you will have to discuss it with your employer, but you are not required to provide details.