You spend a lot of time at your job. Maybe most of your waking hours. Ideally, your boss and coworkers become your friends, which is nice.
But be careful! Never forget that you can’t totally let your hair down with work friends the way you might with family, old schoolmates, your book group, your buddies, or your cat/dog.
Why? For one thing, the workplace is a public place and public rules of decorum prevail. For another, a lot of subjects--even ones commonly discussed or ones you see referred to on TV--can turn around and reflect badly on you. They can besmirch your reputation or damage your chances of promotion. Sometimes they can get you fired. At the very least they can cause coworkers to avoid or dislike you.
So, check out these 40 topics that shouldn't be discussed on the job. Some of them are no-brainers. Heck, most of them are. However, all of them have actually been brought up in the workplace at one time or another. You’ve probably heard them yourself. (Note: The last seven are not so very horrible, but the problem is that these are topics that some people tend to go on and on about, and that’s why they made the list. You’ll understand when you get there.)
- Your politics
- Your religion
- Your salary
- Your medical history
- Your sexual exploits
- Any workplace gossip
- Any plans to quit
- Your aches and pains
- How much you just paid for something
- The progress, or lack thereof, of your therapy
- Your blog URL
- How much time you spend on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
- How messy your house is
- Your extensive knowledge of curse words
- The fact that you’re ovulating, PMS-ing, or having your period
- Your hot flashes
- Gory details of any major illness or accident
- Your Viagra side effects
- Your tax problems
- Your criminal record
- How much you hate a thing
- Your difficulty in digesting any food, and symptoms thereof
- Your, or your wife’s, fertility treatment
- Your, or your wife’s, miscarriage
- Your messy divorce
- Your expertise in filching office supplies
- Your penis size
- Any odd/quirky/weird habits
- The state of your undergarments
- Your fear that you’re going to lose your job
- How much you hate your job
- How much you hate your customers
- How much you hate the boss
- Your cute kids
- Your adorable pets
- Your last, or next, vacation
- Your new house, boat, car, computer, etc.
- Your home remodel
- Your wedding plans
- Your diet
So are you wondering what is OK to talk about?
Well, you can discuss the work at hand as much as you want, of course.
You are also free to make chitchat about hobbies and interests, the movie you went to see last weekend, the great book you’re reading, the class you just signed up for, current events (be a little careful with this one), the weather, sports, art, history, music, or, on a limited basis, Nos. 34 through 40 above.
See? That’s a lot!
Karen Burns is the author of the illustrated career advice book The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, recently released by Running Press. She blogs at www.karenburnsworkinggirl.com.