Establishing a peaceful workplace has many benefits. Transparency makes employees feel like they can share anything among themselves and with management. However, even if your workplace pushes for transparency, there are some topics that you should avoid discussing with your co-workers. These topics include: your salary or hourly pay, co-worker gossip, your dislike of management and your intentions to look for another job.
One thing you should never discuss with your co-workers is what you are being paid. Not everyone is paid equally for performing the same function. This can happen for many different reasons due to experience, seniority or education to name a few. If a co-worker discovers they are making less than you, it often causes resentment in the workplace. They will resent you and not be willing to help you out when you ask for assistance. They can also grow to resent management because they think managers are showing special treatment. If you want to find out if your pay is competitive, then do some research online and avoid this topic like the plague in the workplace.
Not everyone knows not to discuss certain things at work. If a co-worker comes to you and talks about something personal, it is not your right to go and tell everyone else. Keep it to yourself! Like playing a game of telephone among friends at a party, gossip can become misleading and change as it bounces from person to person often not telling the whole story or making it seem worse. Also, if a co-worker tells you something in confidence and you betray that trust, it could damage your working relationship. It is best that if you feel the need to speak about it after being told, you tell someone outside of the people you work with.
If you resent your management for the decisions they make or the way they run the company, it’s best to keep it to yourself. Discussing your resentment with co-workers can cause them to form opinions rather than making their own. Voicing your dislike could even get back to your manager. If you have a disagreement about the way management is handling things, then you should talk to your manager(s) directly and let them know face to face what you like and don’t like. However, you should approach this conversation delicately and not make it an attack on their management style.
It is not okay to discuss your job search with co-workers. While it is acceptable to look for another position with another company for your own personal reasons, it is something that you want to keep tight lipped about until you have a legitimate offer from another company. If you tell someone you work with, then they could either tell someone else who tells your manager or tell your manager themselves. Regardless of who your manager receives the information from, it could end badly for you if it is not received well. At the extreme, it could mean a drop in pay, a demotion in title or not having a job at all.
So What’s Okay to Discuss?
By now you might be wondering what is okay to discuss in the workplace with my co-workers and the answer is pretty simple. Keep it simple! You can discuss hobbies, interests, what you did last night and other topics, but don’t go into details. However, most of your topics of conversation should revolve around work and the job you and your co-workers are performing.
There are many other topics of discussion to avoid in the workplace. Bottom line, when it comes to talking with you co-workers, is to keep it simple and don’t make it too personal. While you get to know your co-workers and them getting to know you creates transparency in the workplace. Just be careful of getting too personal, that is just unacceptable.