9 Things you Never talk about at Work

Introduction

I bet you will probably know some people that everyone hates at work. Why would that be? Simply because they say the wrong things, at the wrong time. I am certain you will do your best to avoid meeting them as much as you can.

And if you worry that you might be that annoying person in the office, then here is a reassuring thought: you are not, because people who are really irritating do not think much about their own behaviour. Even if you have come to the conclusion that some colleagues might be allowed to say anything they like, there are still nine things that you should never talk about at work, neither to your colleagues, nor to your bosses. Finally I will also give you my ultimate solution to bad bosses and self serving colleagues. So, here we go.

1. Your relationship issues

You may think that everyone around you at work is also really mature, but a lot of people stop growing up just after finishing their education. This means that if everything goes well in your love life, frustrated single colleagues do not want to hear about it. But if your love life collapses, then it takes only one person to hear something about it and then announces it to the whole community. Suddenly you are the talk of the town and not in a positive way.

You should also realise that gossip about a relationship gets worse and worse with every person who hears it. It starts with telling your friends that you have some problems with your girlfriend, and before you know it, you will be summoned by human resources for domestic violence.

Unless you get married or you get engaged, the status of your love life does not interest anyone outside yourself.

2. Health problems 

Talking about your health problems for twenty minutes at a time can be very curing to you. But what would you say if you had to listen non-stop for half an hour to a problem that does not concern you at all? It may be tempting to open up to the first person you meet about your chronic bronchitis, but most people do not really care, even when they ask for it politely. Unless it’s your friends, you’ll only annoy them with your stories and be unpleasant to them.

So, keep it to yourself, unless it really puts a heavy burden on your performance at work. And if you make a small health problem unnecessarily big and stay home, you could become the most irritating employee in your office.

3. Religious beliefs

Religion is still a subject that deeply concerns many people. As a result, it can also cause a lot of division and it can very easily and quickly change into a heated discussion.

I know that the temptation to convert your colleagues to your way of life is great, but you should refrain from this. If you are a zealot, you will only make people unhappy. Keep religious conversations limited to your home environment, unless you share the same belief with a colleague.

4. Your sex life

This should be self evident, but it is good to repeat again. Never talk about sex when you are at work. Never. Not even if you are with your trusted group of colleagues. Nothing makes people, who happen to have not much of a sex life, run faster to human resources than your stories about your hot nights and secret indiscretions. And that is difficult to explain to the people in the HR department. No matter how you turn it, you will always come across as a big ass-hole.

5. Your personal finances

Of course you will be aware that not everyone does equally well. We do not have the same income or spending pattern or sudden and unexpected expenses. So if, at some point of time, you are strapped for cash (which happens to the best of us), deal with it in a mature way and do not talk to anybody about it.

On the other hand: if you are lucky enough to have a good full income, no need to show it off. Those who are not in the same financial situation will hate you for it. You may think that you make an impression on them (and you almost certainly do), but secretly they wish you the worst.

6. How much you earn

This is a subject that should not be a taboo anymore, but unfortunately it still is. You may think that something has to be done in the company for too large salary differences between you and your colleagues. But the reality is different: people are really sensitive about this. A simple conversation with a colleague about an annual salary can quickly get out of hand and then find its way up the ladder. It is up to you whether you want to sacrifice your reputation at work to show transparency in salaries, but I would advise you not to do it.

7. Strange hobbies

It is not so bad to discuss your love for science-fiction and action movies with your colleagues. But if you really have a deviating hobby, such as collecting ecstasy pills or tattooing cars, you can better keep that to yourself.

That is especially true if you are new to the company. A slip of the tongue and your status could immediately change from “new employee” into that of “guy with weird hobby”. This is unfortunately how our societies work.

8. Conflicts and gossip at work

If you tell everybody that you do not like gossip at all, then you are being economical with the truth. A good gossip circuit is the lifeblood of any office politics. But participating in this (sometimes very fun) pastime is a great way to instantly make enemies and start a lot of trouble. If you have any ambition to be popular and funny at your company, do not interfere in corporate gossip, but leave it to the Gossip Girls of this world.

9. Your plans to leave

Do you really want to antagonise your boss? Here is the perfect plan. Tell him or her as loud and clear as possible about your future plans to leave the company! The immediate reaction will be that you do not like it there ( you might even like your job but have a plan to leave anyway).

I hope you did not assume that you would still receive a bonus or perhaps some extra days off. And the next time you report sick? It will not be taken easily. And if you have a boss who is really hateful, you may suddenly get all the crap jobs nobody else wants to do.

In short: just let your boss know that you are leaving at the moment that you really have to. Respect your notice period, but pretend you will stay with your employer for the rest of your life.

Conclusion + recommendation

If you recognize one or more of the above things, it might not be too late. Start by apologizing to anyone you might have offended with your big mouth. And then start slowly with rebuilding your reputation. Unless you really messed up: go look for a different work environment. Hopefully you learn from your mistakes.

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Leave any questions you have in the comment box and I will respond within 24 hours.

 

2 Replies to “9 Things you Never talk about at Work”

  1. Hi there Jerry,

    Thank you kindly for sharing this article with us all. I have absolutely no doubt that this list will grow as we all chip in with our own “taboo topics at work”. I’d certainly add never to talk negatively about anyone at work or spread rumours (which happens in all work environments!). If you are going to speak out of tone about a collegue everyone else is going to think “well if he/she speaks poorly about xyz person then maybe he speaks bad about others too, maybe even me!”.

    1. You are absolutely correct Derek. Spreading rumours, almost always in a negative way, is just disgusting. I tend to think that it says more about the ones spreading them then their victims.

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