Discussions You Should Avoid Having At Work

Robin Schwartz

Discussions You Should Avoid Having At Work

There is a fine line between being friendly with your co-workers and being someone who shares too much information about themselves. We get to know some personal details about our colleagues at work. There are still some topics of conversation that should be avoided in the workplace.

Your Romantic Life

There is an acceptable limit to what you can share personally at work. Gritty details about your dating or married life should be avoided. Keep any conversations about your personal relationships to a minimum.

Your colleagues need to see you as the professional you are. They do not need to see someone who is obsessed with their dating app or who can’t stand her husband’s laziness.


Unless your job title is “Political Analyst” or you work for your state senator, politics should not be a topic of conversation at work. Politics can be too polarizing.

The disagreement of political viewpoints often causes significant tension between opposing sides. If your job has nothing to do with current US or world politics, skip the topic.

Pop Culture

Some pop culture references or conversations may be appropriate for work (think “did you see the new movie last weekend?” or “did you watch the Oscars?”). Generally speaking, the tabloid lives of celebrities isn’t appropriate talk for the break room.

You have every right to follow along with the juiciest Twitter wars or Facebook drama. Discussing your interest in these subject matters with your coworkers may paint you as being slightly superficial.

Your Kids’ Accomplishments

It may be a hard realization to come to, but not everyone you meet is interested in your kids. Subjecting everyone before the meeting of a play-by-play of your sons soccer game or how your daughter won the school science fair will not be well received.

If you feel the need to bring up your children in conversation, do it quickly. Spare the details for colleagues or friends who ask for specifics.

In the above scenario, pets can be substituted for kids. You may think your stories about your dog or grumpy cat are hilarious, but not everyone wants to hear them.

Medical Issues

The details of a person’s illness or medical issue should be discussed with a doctor, not colleagues. If you are out of work a few days on sick leave because of a seasonal cold or flu, it may be appropriate to divulge that much.

Even then, only certain people need to be aware that you needed to take sick time. Do not come back to work and talk about how high your fever was or how you are still congested with a head cold.

If your condition is ongoing, the details are on a need-to-know basis. Only your direct supervisor and HR should have specifics about medical conditions. These issues can be personal and talking about them openly isn’t recommended. Especially in the workplace.

Your New Diet

Whether it is January 1st or the middle of summer, don’t talk about your new “lifestyle” or the newest juice cleanse you are trying. These conversations can quickly become annoying to others.

The need to talk about your calorie intake or fitness regimen to anyone who has ears does not usually make people want to sit near you during a meeting.

If you are giving a new diet or lifestyle a try, good for you. It is important to keep the details and your opinion to yourself. Don’t take it a step too far by commenting on the food choices of your co-workers. Odds are, your new diet won’t be permanent.

Religious Views

Like politics, your personal religious beliefs aren’t appropriate for the workplace. Everyone has the right to their opinion and belief system.

Talking religion at work could make others feel ostracized or discriminated against. Religion can be a sensitive subject and is best avoided at the office.

Tasteless Jokes

Telling jokes that might be derogatory towards certain people is good way to get in to hot water at work. If the punchline of a joke is even a little bit racy, save it for your friends.

Appearing to be someone who doesn’t understand what is and is not appropriate. Not even for the workplace. This doesn’t make your colleagues respect you more.

Your Job Search

Not everyone is happy with their current job. If you are out on interviews and actively searching for the next opportunity, it’s not a topic to bring up at work.

Even if you feel you are close enough with certain colleagues to have such a discussion. Don’t do it. Anyone might overhear a conversation about your upcoming interview with a competitor. The last thing you want is for your supervisor or upper management to hear through the grapevine you intend to leave.

There should be plenty for you to talk to your colleagues about at work without bringing up sensitive or off-color subjects. If you find yourself with a co-worker and are struggling to find something to talk about, stick to something safe. Ask them about the projects they are currently working on or talk about the weather. Bring your professional self to work and not your personal life.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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