During the workday, it’s common to chat casually with colleagues. In many cases, friendships develop, creating opportunities to discuss topics beyond those explicitly related to work. However, regardless of the strength or nature of the relationship, that doesn’t mean specific subjects shouldn’t be off-limits.
Some topics are naturally divisive. Additionally, discussing certain subjects may lead to issues such as discrimination. If you’re wondering what to exclude from your conversations, here’s a look at things you should never talk about at work.
While talking about upcoming legislation that may impact a relevant aspect of your workplace can be necessary for professionals in some roles, personal politics is a topic that’s better left undiscussed. Political discussions are often divisive and potentially volatile. Additionally, many people feel strongly about their positions and may respond defensively or with hostility toward attempts to change their views.
Depending on how a conversation about politics goes, it could damage your relationships and reputation. Plus, if you repeatedly attempt to draw people into these discussions, it could be viewed as harassment. As a result, it’s better to steer clear.
Religion is a highly personal topic, and people’s views are often steadfast. Additionally, some people are inherently sensitive about their religious choices or are uncomfortable talking about religion in a professional setting. While you don’t necessarily need to keep your beliefs entirely secret, in-depth conversations or debates and negative comments about the preferences of others are best avoided.
Attempting to persuade others that your religion is the best choice is also off-limits. Trying to convert someone could be viewed in several ways, and some may interpret it as intolerance or harassment.
Since religious discrimination is barred under employment law and certain actions are often deemed inappropriate – if not illegal – it’s usually better to steer clear of religion as a topic.
While colleagues often can discuss the fact that they’re in a relationship, details about your intimate encounters aren’t appropriate topics of discussion in the workplace. The subject is sensitive in nature, and many consider it taboo. Plus, if the conversation is deemed offensive or makes a coworker uncomfortable, it could qualify as sexual harassment.
Generally speaking, talking about problems relating to your family members isn’t wise. If you frequently discuss household drama at work, many will wonder if the situation hinders your ability to focus. Additionally, depending on the nature of the information, it may come across as too personal, leaving colleagues wondering if you struggle with professionalism or maintaining appropriate boundaries.
However, there are a few exceptions. In specific situations, providing a manager with the basics could be wise. For example, if you may need to use leave to care for an ailing family member, discussing it in advance could ensure you get the support necessary to handle the situation without undue hardship to the company. Plus, that scenario may fall under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which offers you some protection against termination solely because you need to take time off for a qualifying event.
Ultimately, the topics above are typically best avoided while at work, as the consequences of bringing them up usually outweigh the benefits.
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