Wednesday, October 19, 2016

5 Topics of Conversation to Avoid in the Workplace

If you work in the average workplace then you likely are friendly with your co-workers and find yourselves engaged in conversations on topics that have nothing to do with work. In some cases this is helpful and results in colleagues becoming friends.

However, sometimes you can spend time discussing topics that are divisive and have the opposite effect. Spend too much time on these topics and you might end up with an enemy or two at work.

Here are five topics you should consider avoiding in conversations with your co-workers on the job:

1. Politics. Of course, this is a big one and this year might be the most divisive election ever. Even something that might seem fairly innocuous, like a campaign bumper sticker posted in a cubicle, can lead to unpleasant conversations. It's best to leave political conversations at home and when you're with friends.

2. Religion. When you're working you are there to do a job, not convert someone to your religious views. Of course, if someone asks about your weekend it's fine to mention attending a religious service but it should end there, unless your colleague asks to discuss it further. In that case, you might suggest meeting up for lunch or after work. As tolerant as we might like to think we are, religious conversations can become contentious and are best left outside of the office.

3. Money. Speaking of religion, there is the Biblical observation that love of money is the root of all evil. Do not ask your colleagues how much money they make, what their salary is, or how much of a bonus they received ... and do not reveal this information about yourself. Talk of money in the workplace leads to envy and discontent. Do not go there.

4. Sex. No one in the workplace needs to know who you're sleeping with, when was the last time you had sex, or which colleague you'd most like to get with. And the workplace is not the place to be on the hunt for potential sexual partners. You are there to do a job, so do it.

5. Boss. The only person you should ever discuss your boss with is your boss, unless you are saying something positive about him or her. Never speak negatively about your boss to another colleague. If you must speak critically about your supervisor make sure it is in the constructive setting of an evaluation process. Otherwise, follow the maxim we learned as children: if you don't have anything positive to say, don't say anything at all.  

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