10 conversations best avoided at work

Human Resources

10 conversations best avoided at work

10 Conversations
Best Avoided at Work.

Earlier this year a university student I know, took on a job as a waiter in a hot inner suburban restaurant and bar and made a common mistake. Quite a sweet and innocent mistake really. The team would often finish late and enjoy a bottle of wine (or two) together, perhaps head out for a burger or a movie and soon she saw them as friends not colleagues and then the trouble started.

It’s a learning experience but there are things we share with friends and family but should never raise or discuss at work. Sharing the ‘wrong’ things with co-workers can quickly spin out and leave us exposed, vulnerable or ostracized. Certainly some fun and banter with colleagues is great, probably necessary but you need to know where to draw the line.

The problem is that a couple of post work drinks can quickly lead to unintended loose lips and anything you tell colleagues will spread faster than news of a secret sex tape showing Prince Harry in bed with Joan Rivers. Remember everyone loves to gossip. What’s more, most people continue to talk and whinge about colleagues when that colleague is absent – it’s human nature.

The 10 Topics best avoided is a tough one to narrow down but let’s give it a go:

Your Politics – Don’t say: Why would anyone in their right mind vote for David Cameron or Tony Abbott? Not to mention Clive Palmer. Just don’t do it. Politics can divide people and open up a massive can of worms.

Your Salary or Financial Position – Avoid all talk about money at work, be it details about your salary or how much your house or flat cost, your car or computer. Talking about money can quickly generate negative feelings such as jealousy, resentment and gossip.

Financial Involvement – Never a lender or a borrower be: it will surely end badly.

Intimate Details – Keep your private life private don’t discuss fights and tensions at home and never talk about your love or sex life – no matter how awesome or awful your sex life is don’t ever share the detail at work.

Drugs & Alcohol – even if you are nursing the hangover from hell or want to share the excesses of your super party weekend, don’t do it at work. It will always look unprofessional. And as for talking about other drugs – don’t even think about it!

Medical Details – We all enjoy talking about our illnesses and ailments. The more sickeningly appalling the better the story – we think! Even though other peoples medical details can be interesting definitely draw the line at discussing even your cold let alone fungal toe nails or your hemorrhoids. Work is not the place to share these fascinating stories.

Religious & Ethnic views – You know the person…”I’m not racist but…” or have you heard the one about the Jew the Arab and the Irish Setter” Invariably one of your colleagues will have a Jewish mother who loves Irish setters and is married to an Arab. It’s the 21st century  look around and grow up.

 Political Correctness – We may not agree with everyone’s agenda but as we develop our emotional intelligence we should start to respect and even think about and consider the views of others. Sure let rip around the dinner table at home or with close friends it’s called healthy discussion. At work it’s just rude.

Social Media – Being as friendly and pleasant as possible with colleagues is great but connecting with all colleagues on Facebook is a step too far. For some just a tad creepy and invasive, when they go home they want to forget work. There is also the risk that one may become “over tired” on the way home and post your thoughts on your friends page before waking in the morning to OMG!

A New Job – You might feel unhappy in your job and be actively looking for now position, but don’t tell anyone at work. It will very quickly come out and could leave you in a very difficult position.

I could keep going and give you the 101 topics to avoid. It’s a subjective area, you will agree with some and not others but its occasionally worth taking stock of who and what we are and how we act within our workplace.

An admission before closing the page………………..I think I may have broken every one of those rules but that’s life and learning isn’t it?

Neil Steggall

Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Neil is the CEO of Wardour Capital Partners, leading emerging growth & mid tier advisors. He is also a Non Executive Director of Family Planning Australia and The Australia Asia Business Alliance. Neil is an experienced director & corporate mentor and has chaired or served on numerous board committees including finance & audit, governance, compliance, strategy, acquisition, remuneration & ethics.