Regardless of how relaxed your office may be, there are certain topics you should refrain from discussing during work hours.
While sharing too many personal details might help you bond with co-workers, it can also harm your professional reputation.
After all, there are probably things you wouldn’t want your managers to know, right?
Especially if being too open leads to a chat with the nice HR people.
Here are 11 things smart people never reveal about themselves at work.
Sometimes, biting your tongue might actually improve your career prospects.
1) Their political/religious beliefs
There’s a popular saying that you should never discuss politics, religion, and money in polite society.
While we’ll cover the latter in a minute, the first two should be self-explanatory.
Workplaces often consist of people from various cultural, religious, and political backgrounds.
If you express strong political or religious beliefs, you risk alienating or offending colleagues who hold different views.
In the long run, this can lead to division within the team, making your life at the office considerably more unpleasant.
Moreover, inclusivity and diversity are priorities for many organizations, and it might even be against your company’s policies to bring up topics that can affect morale.
As we all know, discussing these two hot topics can escalate into conflict quicker than it takes a corrupt politician to find their moral compass in a haystack.
Consider yourself warned.
2) Their controversial opinions
Similarly, your controversial opinions should be reserved for your closest friends and secret Reddit accounts.
Like with politics and religion, sharing a controversial opinion can cause discomfort among colleagues, potentially affecting teamwork.
I’m not suggesting that you can’t say you didn’t like a movie everyone in the office did or that you think the food you ordered for lunch was abysmal.
I’m talking more along the lines of anything that has to do with climate change, the economy, immigration, gender/sexuality, and so on.
You get the idea.
3) Their finances
And there you have it: money.
I don’t know about your social circle, but every time the subject of money comes up when I’m out and about, people get uncomfortable.
Financial information is typically considered private.
While there has been talk lately about the importance of sharing how much you make in the context of pay transparency, the subject is still considered taboo in many organizations.
Generally speaking, not a lot of good can come from asking a colleague how much they earn or from opening up about your own salary.
Additionally, smart people don’t disclose much about their net worth or financial difficulties.
To use HR language, colleagues who find out about disparities in pay or financial status may breed resentment, negatively affecting workplace relationships.
All in all, mum’s the word as far as money is concerned.
4) Details about their intimate lives
As it usually happens, there are always exceptions with these lists.
For instance, I used to work as a journalist for a few years.
The schedule was hectic, the hours were long, my co-workers became like a second family.
There’s not much we didn’t talk about. Given the nature of the work, chats about politics, religion, or money were common occurrences.
But not even during our longest days did we end up sharing overly intimate details.
Sure, we knew who was dating who and who was having problems at home (journalists are some of the most gossipy people in the universe).
However, we never knew what goes on in the bedroom, if you catch my drift.
Some things should stay private – and your sex life definitely falls within those lines.
5) Health/personal problems
You won’t hear a smart person discuss health or personal problems at work.
First off, sharing personal issues can detract from the professionalism of the workplace and be distracting for both you and your colleagues.
Furthermore, your colleagues might find these reveals awkward, which is probably not what you intended in the first place.
There are times when you need to disclose a medical condition, like if you need special accommodations or if it may impact the safety of others.
Even then, share information on a need-to-know basis to maintain healthy boundaries between work and life.
6) How wild their weekend was
Things I don’t recommend you share when a co-worker asks how you spent your weekend:
- That you had seven tequila shots and passed out in the club bathroom
- That you were detained by the police for public urination and vandalism
- That you spent Saturday in bed watching adult entertainment websites
- That you attended fight club (we don’t talk about fight club)
These are extreme examples, but you should abstain from telling colleagues about the wild things you do in your spare time.
Acceptable weekend activities include outdoor adventures, self-improvement projects, family-friendly entertainment, and cultural events.
In fact, smart people make it a point to stick to topics that put them in a good light.
They’ll mention they attended a seminar, read a book, or ran a marathon.
You should follow their lead.
7) Their social media profiles
While your LinkedIn profile should be up-to-date, there’s no need to share any social media handles with supervisors or colleagues.
Granted, they might friend/follow you on Facebook or Instagram but don’t advertise the fact that you’re extremely online.
Shield your workplace from your occasional thirst traps or embarrassing tweets.
Your social media activity shapes your professional image, so there’s no need to put yourself at risk.
8) Their insecurities
Regardless of how much pressure they experience, smart people don’t reveal their insecurities at work.
Fear of failure? No such thing! Imposter syndrome? Never heard of her!
If you work in a competitive field, sharing your insecurities may make others exploit them and perceive you as weak.
While you can be vulnerable with your work bestie, don’t go overboard.
As inconvenient as it may be, your image plays a significant role in how your managers see you.
Appearing overwhelmed or insecure may cost you that promotion you were longing for.
9) How much they dread being there
Not all jobs are dream jobs.
As far as everyone at the office needs to know, though, you’re having the time of your life working there.
Complaining about the workload, the bosses, or the long hours won’t win you any favors.
Instead, make it a point to focus on the positive.
Even when you feel like you would give your right hand to work literally anywhere else.
10) How annoying or incompetent they find their co-workers
Chances are, you won’t get along with everyone at your workplace.
Still, when you’re forced to interact with someone you don’t like, you still need to act professionally.
There’s a case to be made for constructive feedback.
But if a colleague drives you nuts, keep that information to yourself.
Don’t talk about the person behind their back, call them names, or steal their lunch.
As long as it’s a personal clash of personalities, keep your distance when possible and be polite and cooperative otherwise.
That said, if the colleague’s shortcomings impact your work or the overall functioning of the team, consider discussing it with your supervisor or the HR department.
Even then, don’t simply complain.
Focus on specific performance issues and offer suggestions for improvement.
You want to come across as a problem solver, not the voice of discontent.
11) That they’re looking for another job
Finally, smart people never reveal that they’re looking for another job until they have to.
Revealing that you’re in the market for new opportunities could jeopardize your current position, as well as make you look bad in the eyes of your managers.
Keep your job hunting confidential until you have a new offer and are ready to provide notice to your current employer.
As for side hustles, your company might require you to disclose them.
But if they don’t impact your day job, there shouldn’t be any problems.
Sharing the wrong kind of information at work can land you in hot water.
At best, you’ll experience anxiety after you realize that you’ve said too much.
At worst, your reputation will take a hit, and disciplinary action might follow.
Whenever in doubt, err on the side of caution.
You’re there to do a job, not make friends.