Most of us spend more time at the workplace with colleagues than anywhere else. So it just comes natural that we talk about many other things than simply work. In fact, this is even essential in order to build a good relationship with your co-workers. You might even count some of your colleagues as real friends.
However, it is important to know where to draw the line. There are certain things co-workers need not know about each other, including religious and political views as well as personal issues. Sometimes people just can’t seem to keep their mouths shut. And don’t forget — a casual conversation can easily turn into office gossip, which again can easily turn around to the one who spreads it — including yourself.
To avoid risking your professional image, here are 10 things to never share or discuss with your co-workers:
1. Salary information
What you earn is between you and Human Resources. Disclosure indicates you aren’t capable of keeping a confidence.
2. Medical history
Aches and pains, your latest operation, your infertility woes or the contents of your medicine cabinet, can be serious worries to you — and only you. To your employer, your constant medical issues make you seem like an expensive, high-risk employee.
3. Work complaints
Constant complaints about your workload, stress levels or the company will quickly make you the kind of person who never gets invited to lunch. If you don’t agree with company policies and procedures, address it through official channels or move on.
4. Cost of purchases
The spirit of keeping up with the Joneses is alive and well in the workplace, but you don’t want others speculating on the lifestyle you’re living — or if you’re living beyond your salary bracket.
5. Intimate details
Don’t share intimate details about your personal life. This is no one’s business other than yours and your partner’s. It also makes people uncomfortable. So keep your personal bedroom details private or people will snigger about you behind your back.
6. Politics or religion
Both faith and politics are very sensitive issues and people can be very passionate about them. You may alienate a co-worker or be viewed negatively in a way that could impact your career. Be discreet and don’t force your views on others.
7. Lifestyle changes and personal problems
Breakups, divorces and baby-making plans should be shared only if there is a need to know, and then maybe only to selected people in private. Otherwise, others will speak for your capabilities, desires and limitations on availability, whether there is any truth to their assumptions or not.
8. Blogs or social networking profile
Be careful about what you say in a social networking community or in your personal blog. This may be even more damaging than what you say in person as it could show a totally different side of you. Comments online can be seen by multiple eyes. An outburst of anger when you are having a bad day … can blow up in your face. There are many tales of a employee calling in sick but then complaining of a massive hangover on Facebook, forgetting they were friends with their boss.
9. Hangovers and wild weekends
It’s perfectly fine to have fun during the weekend, but don’t talk about your wild adventures on Monday. That information can make you look unprofessional and unreliable. The same goes for overindulging on a Friday night at the pub. Leave before EVERYONE knows your secrets.
10. Off-color or racially charged comments
You can assume your co-worker wouldn’t be offended or would think something is funny, but you never know. Don’t take that risk. Furthermore, even if you know for certain your colleague wouldn’t mind your comment, don’t talk about it at work. Others can easily overhear.
Image provided by Julia F.