Juggling being friendly while keeping your relationships professional at work can be difficult. You want to get to know your coworkers—and you might have some that become genuine friends—but when you’re at the office (or anytime you’re with colleagues, especially a superior!), there’s a line that can’t be crossed. Friendly conversation may be okay, but here are 11 topics you should never discuss in the office.
It’s true—if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all! Spreading gossip around your workplace is not only harmful to relationships between you and your coworkers, but also to the work environment as a whole.
“I may think all that in my head, but it's definitely not appropriate for work to say them out loud,” says Emily, a junior at St. Bonaventure University. To get out of this situation, Emily says it’s best to leave the conversation and pretend to be busy doing something else. “It's unhealthy in a work environment to gossip about fellow coworkers or anyone in a position of authority.”
2. Your coworker crush
Discussing who you find attractive with either your male or female coworkers may seem like a good idea at the time (especially if you’re hoping word will get around to your crush), but in the end, it will just come back to bite you or make things awkward with you and your crush at work—especially if you work at a company where inter-office relationships are a no-no.
3. Your personal problems
No matter how interested your coworkers may seem, they don’t want to hear about your family drama or how strange your boyfriend has been acting lately. Just don’t do it.
4. Hooking up
“Talking about hook-ups makes everything awkward,” says Maddy*, a freshman at American University. “A coworker once casually told me she wanted to hook up with a guy who happened to be a good friend of mine. She didn’t know I knew him, but after that I was uncomfortable.”
Even if nobody knows the guy you took home last weekend, your personal life should stay that way—personal.
5. Politics and religion
"To maintain a professional relationship, I think discussing sensitive subjects, like religion and politics could be avoided when holding discussions with coworkers,” says Sorany, a student at the University of Florida.
There’s a certain time and place to discuss politics and religion, and it’s not at work. Things get heated, assumptions are made, and it’s not pretty for anyone.
Whether you already have plans to move on to something bigger and better, or you realize the job you’re in isn’t the right one for you, there’s no reason to discuss quitting on the job. You might think the girl in the cube over makes for a good confidant, but even if you can trust her, word gets around the office and you might ruin relationships with other colleagues and even your boss. If you are putting in your notice? Your boss should hear it from you, first.
You make minimum wage, the girl at the desk across from you makes $14 an hour. Talking about money with your fellow workers could turn professional relationships into rivalries, and someone could end up bitter about it, which is why it’s best to avoid talking about your earnings at work.
8. An attractive boss
Don’t talk about your boss with your co-workers—especially one that you consider to be attractive. It’s unprofessional, inappropriate, goes against all rules of office etiquette, and if it ever gets back to your boss, your relationship will become awkward—or you might even be terminated.
9. Other coworkers
“Definitely don't discuss other coworkers or people in the office,” says Amanda*, a senior at Hofstra University. “This never ends well and could end with trouble!” She says a girl from work was gossiping about some other colleagues while they were standing nearby, and it made everyone at the party uncomfortable. “Not sure if it's related, but the girl no longer works for the company.”
10. Negative opinions about a task
Has your boss assigned you something that you just aren’t interested in doing? Don’t complain about it to your peers. “No matter if you don't like it very much, there are such better ways to go about expressing your feelings towards an assignment,” says Katera, a Her Campus correspondent at Marquette University. “It's just inappropriate and unprofessional.”
Instead, turn it into a positive situation—sit down with your boss to evaluate the tasks you’ve been assigned, express your willingness to take on any job, and also reiterate what your interests are. Make sure it’s clear that you will get the work done no matter what it is, but your boss will also want to know what kind of work you are particularly eager to take on.
11. Being hungover
Talking about the rager you were at the night before and how much your head is pounding as a result is not going to fly. Even if you do have a hangover, it’s not something you should talk about with your coworkers. It’s not attractive or professional and makes you appear like you’re not ready to take your job seriously.
Knowing which topics are acceptable for work and which are NSFW is a part of moving up in the real world. You should absolutely get to know your coworkers and enjoy the time you spend with them in the office—just be sure to keep it appropriate and professional!
*Names have been changed.