Many of us spend long hours in an office, at a job site or working remotely and cultivate friendships and connections through our work.
However, what I’ve noticed in past jobs is that certain coworkers begin to lose respect because they talk about subjects that show them in a poor light.
It’s not even that what they’re saying is always inappropriate, it’s just that the following subjects can get really awkward and throw others off their focus.
They can also make you seem less professional and stir up more controversy, conflict, confusion and even jealousy than is necessary.
Let’s dive in to take a look at things that lose you respect at work when you talk about them…
1) Your salary and finances
Your salary isn’t a good idea to talk about at work, because:
- If it’s good you’ll seem like you’re bragging or being overpaid
- If it’s bad you may come across bitter and your words may get to the boss’ ears.
Your personal finances are also a very good idea to avoid at work.
If you’re in trouble you can come across as negative and desperate, and if you’re doing well you can stir up jealousy among colleagues or frustration that you seem to be full of yourself.
2) Your sex life and love life
I’ve worked in about 20 jobs, including various jobs every summer in between university semesters.
My first job was 16 in a lumberyard near my dad’s apartment, where I worked with cursing chainsmokers and jokers and a Persian immigrant nicknamed Sam who always wore bright pink pants.
Some of the guys (not Sam) would talk about their relationship issues, but more often they would talk about their sex lives.
When I say talk, I mean brag and you know the kind of tasteless, low-class stuff I’m talking about. Swaggering in with a coffee cup in hand: “I just got laid, boys! Perfect ten, f*ckin’ A.”
If you act like this at work you’re going to lose a lot of respect and come across as juvenile and annoying.
3) Your past conquests and accomplishments
If you’ve done great things in the past in work and in your personal life, that’s something to be proud of!
But talking about it at work a lot usually comes across as bragging and being full of yourself.
It can lead to jealousy and annoyance among coworkers who may think you feel superior or better than them.
Not a great way to go about your work day to say the least!
4) Your current accomplishments at work
If you’re doing well in your current job, let your boss or colleagues tell you that.
Talking about it and playing it up is not a good move.
If bosses ask you things like “what do you think you’re doing well right now?” in a performance review, feel free to let loose.
But in general, keep your current amazing accomplishments close to the vest.
Focus on the next step rather than on letting people at work know how well you’re already doing.
5) Your opinions of coworkers
Many jobs end up having factions and gossip.
If you find certain colleagues ridiculous or unlikeable, it’s usually best not to discuss that with other employees.
Even if they agree with you, gossip and talking about those you don’t like has a way of circling back around.
- It’s a waste of time;
- It focuses energy in a downward spiral and tends to feed a vicious cycle of gossip.
6) Your political and religious beliefs
Politics and religion are two of my main interests.
But talking about them when you chat at work can definitely lead to a lessening of respect, especially among others who disagree with you.
You can’t go through life walking on eggshells, but at the same time it’s important not to be too reckless.
There’s no real reason to wade into controversial political or religious discussions unless you find common ground or a specific topic that’s relevant to talk to with a coworker.
If your job doesn’t directly involve religion or politics, it’s usually best to steer clear of and just try to stay neutral when others get into intense discussions over it.
7) Your conspiratorial and alternative views
I find conspiracies very interesting. I think some have elements of truth and others are ridiculous and insane.
But whatever views you have in support or against conspiracies, work isn’t really the place to wade into it.
Work is a place to focus on the task at hand and to the extent that socializing is involved, try to make it about things that are fairly light or related to the task at hand.
When it comes to UFOs, mind control and the bad stuff you believe the government might be up to, save it for close friends or after work if possible!
8) Your biggest pet peeves and what you hate
Pet peeves can be fun to talk about but the things that you can’t stand are usually not the best thing to speak about at work.
They create a perception that you are either:
- A negative person prone to complaining;
- An overly sensitive person who can’t take any adversity.
Neither of these impressions are ones you want to help sustain at work!
It’s just a fact that employers and colleagues may like the heck out of you but if they begin to doubt your strength or basic drive in life it can affect your job quite negatively.
9) Your mental and physical health problems
If you are struggling with mental health issues it may be worth talking with human resources or your boss.
Physical health concerns may also be necessary to bring up, especially if you have appointments or surgery which will require you to take time off.
But talking about your personal mental health struggles or injuries and illnesses is best kept away from work.
Not only does it bring down the mood, it also can cause the perception that you’re not OK to work or struggling too much to focus on your job.
10) Your substance and alcohol use (or overuse)
You may enjoy drinking and all sorts of substances, but work isn’t the place to talk about it.
Your boss may get word, and even if he or she doesn’t, other employees who don’t approve of the behavior could well become flustered.
The other risky part of talking about all your wild benders is that even those coworkers who find it genuinely funny or “cool” may become concerned about your competence at work.
Can this person actually work and get much done if they’re out doing all those things on Saturday? Your coworkers might be wondering this…
When it comes to keeping respect at work and not talking about subjects that will negatively impact your reputation, don’t forget:
Respect is easier to keep than to get back!