We all spend a helluva lot of time at work, and one way to handle that is by getting close with coworkers. Even if the only thing you share in common is your job, it's nice to have someone to vent to and share office gripes. But that doesn't mean you can say whatever you want at work.
Whether you're complaining about your boss, or dishing about your relationship drama, it's totally possible to share more than what is appropriate, and suffer consequences as a result. While this might not be happen with true work BFFs, you can never be too careful when it comes to remaining professional.
So, while it might not be as fun, it's often smart to stick with some work-approved topics. "The safest bet is to stick with public information and leave your own personal opinions or prejudices out of it," author and life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "That's why people love talking about the weather! You have to be hard-pressed to make weather an offensive topic of conversation, and all you have to do is step outside in order to be included in the topic."
But your convos can go beyond that, once you gauge whether or not it's OK. "Current events, and work-related topics (projects, meetings, conferences) are all great topics to stick with at work," Rogers adds. "If you prefer to open up your personal life to coworkers, that could be completely appropriate, as long as you are prepared for any consequences that may come with it." Read on for a few more guidelines in the form of what not to say.
1. That You're Searching For A New Job
While it can be tempting to tell your coworkers that you're looking for something new, do try to keep it a secret as best you can. "If your boss discovers that you are looking for a new home, even if your reason is justified, he or she will view your decision as a sign of disloyalty," says career counselor and executive coach Roy Cohen. This can cause some trust issues, especially if you decide to stay.
2. How Much You Dislike Your Boss
If you work somewhere with a tyrant of a boss, it can be difficult to keep your negative thoughts to yourself — especially if your coworkers start sharing their opinions. But keep in mind how quickly things like this can spread. "It is likely to get back to your boss if done behind [their] back," Cohen says. And that's never good.
3. How Hungover You Are
Unless you work in a creative, fun environment with a bunch of people your age — who are also likely tired or hungover — it's best to keep your symptoms to yourself. "Complaining about how hungover you are ... is obviously not the smartest way to impress a boss or coworker," says Jaclyn Johnson, founder of Create & Cultivate. If it slips out, that's OK. Just don't make it a habit.
4. What You Really Think About Your Coworker
News spreads quickly through tiny offices, so don't put yourself in a position that might make you look bad. "You don't want to be the office water cooler — meaning, you don't want to be the person everyone gathers around to gossip," Johnson says. "That's not a good look and will likely get you in trouble down the line."
5. How Much You Hated Your Old Job
You never know who knows who in this world, so it's better to keep negative opinions about your old place of employment under wraps. "Talking smack about a former boss or company is dangerous," Johnson says. Again, you don't want to be that person. It's just not worth it.
6. Your Relationship Status Or Sex Life
If you feel comfy with your coworkers, then it's up to you to decide what's OK to share and what isn't. But keep in mind there's usually such a thing as TMI. "Simply, there is a time and a place for everything and unless it contributes to the overall well-being of your work environment, you shouldn't be sharing to share," Johnson says. "There are coworkers who don't want to know how your date went."
7. The State Of Your Mental Health
There have been huge improvements in workplace culture in terms of overcoming the stigma surrounding mental health issues. As Johnson says, "The dawn of social media has given rise to the idea that all things are for sharing. It's brought awareness to so many causes ... We're getting over the 'shame' factor of issues that affect so many of us." That said, not everyone is going to be cool and understanding. So, unless you've felt out your office culture and found your "at-office tribe", it may be a good idea to share with your therapist instead.
8. That Big Celebration You're Having In A Few Months
It's impossible to keep your work and private life totally separate, especially if you're planing something big — like a wedding. That said, it's a good idea to keep your plans as quiet as possible. "For example, if you share that you are getting married in the fall with coworkers whom you cannot or do not want to invite, be prepared for awkwardness from that point forward," Rogers says. "You have a right to invite only those you want to attend to your own wedding, but there are consequences with sharing.""
9. How Much Money You Have/Make
Money will (obviously) come up at work, since that's one of the main reasons you're there. But that doesn't mean you should dish about your cash. "In the office, not all people will have the same rate as you," business owner Joanna Douglas, of Clean Affinity Cleaning Service, tells Bustle. You never know what someone might do with that info. And you definitely don't want to create conflict.
10. That Thing That Happened Over The Weekend
In the same vein as the hangover comments, it's a good idea to keep your wild weekend a secret, too. "I'm all for having a good time, but there is a level of professionalism you need to have in the workplace," says career coach Jena Viviano. "Meaning, I don't want to hear about your sexcapades or how wasted you got this weekend. Not the time and the place."
11. How Your Relationship Is Going
Your relationship means a lot to you, so it's normal to want to talk about it. That doesn't mean, however, that you should use your job as a place to vent about problems. "An example of this can be talking about your married life to a co-worker that you are not close with," Douglas says. "The possibilities of them gossiping about your marriage can be pretty high. Office politics and gossip is no joke. Sometimes, it can make your life in the office a little uncomfortable."
All of that said, you should most definitely feel free to create friendships and feel comfortable at work. While every job is different, there's usually enough wiggle room to feel and act like yourself while at work — no matter how buttoned up or strict it may be.
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