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Things to Never Say in the Workplace

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

Dear Intelligent, Driven Professionals,

Whether you’re new in a position, have worked at the same place for years, or are still in college working towards your first professional job, there are some things you should¬†never talk about in the workplace. Not to say you shouldn’t try and create positive relationships with your co-workers/peers, which inevitably requires you to divulge information about yourself, but there are lines you can and can’t cross. Or, more accurately,¬†shouldn’t cross.

Things NOT to talk about:

Champlain College

If you wouldn’t say it to a recruiter, don’t say it to your co-workers. Photo by Stephen Mease

  1. Don’t make fun of your co-workers/peers behind their backs or to their faces. It makes you look bad, not them, like you’re rude and petty and certainly not ready to be an up-and-coming professional. Keep those opinions to yourself.
  2. Don’t tell your co-workers that you’re gunning for their or someone else in the office’s job. It’s okay to be silently ambitious and to show your drive by the hard work you do, but directly competing with your co-workers will make the work environment tense and less productive, which surely will get you noticed by your boss for the wrong reasons.
  3. Don’t talk about what you do on the weekends unless it involves PG family-oriented activities. This means you don’t talk about the bars you like to go, what drinks you like from where, or anything on a similar subject. Keep your personal life separate from work as much as possible.
  4. Don’t tell everyone that you hate your job. Odds are, most people have things they like and dislike about their job, and your complaining only makes you look unprofessional. If you’re truly unhappy, make a transition into a job that will be a better fit for you, but don’t drag your co-workers through the mud with you.
  5. Don’t talk about how much money you make and don’t ask others what they make. It’s likely that others in the office make more or less than you and finding it out will only breed discontent. If you feel like you should be making more, have a conversation with your boss, not your co-workers.
  6. Politics and religion are two topics that are always off-limits in professional settings. People are bound to disagree, and since there are no right answers, no one can win. Such conflicts can create tensions that last much longer than the offending conversation does.
  7. Don’t post your weekend shenanigans on Facebook. Don’t post half-naked photos, photos of you drinking tequila, photos of your kissing your significant other. Keep it PG. Use that sound judgement you surely have.
  8. Don’t tell jokes that could offend someone. This includes language or slurs that could be exclusive of groups, either present in your office or not. You may mean nothing by it, but you never know how someone might take a joke. Is it really worth losing your job or hurting others over?
  9. Don’t talk about your job hunt to your current co-workers. It could get back to your boss and you could find yourself out of a job before you have another one secured. It could also create tensions between you and your co-workers, especially if they take your reason for leaving personally.

It may sound like there’s far more you can’t say in a professional setting than you can, but really, you just have to use common sense. Don’t say anything that could make you vulnerable, jeopardize your job, or set your co-workers/peers on edge. Keep things amicable and with a positive work environment, watch your job satisfaction improve dramatically.

Sources: The Muse