6 Topics to Avoid Discussing at Work

6 Topics to Avoid Discussing at Work

June 24, 2020

As more and more Americans return to the workplace from being quarantined at home, we are reminded that as much as we’d like to be social with each other, there are some things we should avoid discussing at work because bringing up these topics could make your coworkers and customers uncomfortable or influence their opinions of you and your ability to do your job. Awkwardness in the workplace can affect its functioning and ultimately the employer’s bottom line. Nobody wants to be the cause of that.

1. Politics

Trump, Biden, Republicans, Democrats, Black Lives Matter, Police brutality, CNN, Fox News, etc., etc. Right now Politics is a more volatile topic than any other. It causes tempers to flare and has ended relationships, even between close friends and family. Given the amount of time you spend at work, and the need to get along and work side-by-side with your colleagues, having conversations about it is not worth it.

While you may feel very strongly about your party or the candidate you support, or you may have an intensely unfavorable opinion of the opposition, do not try to win your coworkers over to your side. It will be a futile effort that will merely cause hard feelings between you and them. And especially do not talk to customers about any of these political-based topics as it most assuredly the fastest way to lose customers.

2. Religion

While religion seems to be discussed everywhere, from the campaign trail to the sports field to the awards ceremony stage, it is a topic about which you should tread very lightly in the workplace. One’s faith is a personal thing, and many people are sensitive about it. There is no need to be secretive about your religion—by all means, it’s perfectly fine to mention things you do to celebrate it—but realize that not everyone worships the same way.

Do not discuss your religious beliefs in depth and keep any negative opinions about others’ beliefs to yourself. Your coworkers don’t want to hear that you disagree with them about this or that your religion is the right one for everyone. Never, no matter what, try to persuade anyone you work with to convert to your faith.

3. Your Sex Life

Don’t ever discuss details about your sex life. Really. There is entirely no reason for anyone to know what goes on between you and your partner or partners. This topic makes many people squirm and can cause your coworkers to feel uneasy around you.

Discussing your sex life can get you into legal hot water. If someone feels intimidated or thinks you have created an offensive work environment, he or she may have grounds to file a sexual harassment complaint. When you genuinely need to confide in someone other than your partner, a good friend will have to do.

4. Problems With Your Spouse, Your Children, or Your Parents

Discussing problems you are having with family members may cause others, including your boss, to wonder if these difficulties will distract you from doing your job? Even if you know these issues won’t affect your work, they don’t.

When supervisors or managers are candid about their problems, their subordinates may see this as a weak spot they can exploit. This can undermine your authority. In addition, highlighting your problems will feed the rumor mill and make you become the subject of workplace gossip.

5. Your Career Aspirations

There isn’t anything wrong with seeing your current job as a stepping stone to bigger and better things, but keep those sentiments to yourself. Talking about your ambitions will, for good reason, make your boss question your loyalty and causes some coworkers to resent you.

If you are interested in advancing within your current organization, do your job exceptionally well, and of course, let your boss know you want to move up through the company’s ranks. Your actions will speak for you.

6. Your Health Problems

Even though health issues—mental or physical—are nothing to be ashamed of, don’t dwell on them too much at work. You may choose not to talk about them at all or to be very open, but regardless of how much, or how little, you disclose, avoid sharing every last detail of your condition.

When deciding how much to share with your colleagues, keep this in mind: when your colleagues know you are sick, they may question your ability to do your job well, just as they could if they knew about your family problems. Although their concerns may be unfounded, it will put doubt in their minds and affect their perceptions of you.

What’s safe to talk about?

So, if you can’t talk about these topics, what can you talk about? How will you get to know each other and develop camaraderie? Try sticking to safe topics that allow you to get to know your coworkers and customers but are less controversial like movies, music, TV shows you may have binge-watched while in quarantine, future travel plans, and food . . . especially if you bring some to share.

(Sources: The Balance, Quora and Life Hack)