Getting along with your coworkers is great—they can be friends in the real world or, at the very least, they can make the 9-5 a little more bearable. But being close with your coworkers doesn’t necessarily make it okay to talk about your crazy weekend over your morning coffee.
Here are five conversations you should avoid in the workplace:
How Much You Make
Discussing salaries with your coworkers is a huge NO. Money is an extremely touchy subject, even among friends who don’t work together, and bringing it up can get awkward quickly.
Discussing your own financial status can only lead to discomfort if others are not in the same boat. You should even avoid talking about how much something as simple as your new shoes cost. What might seem like a great deal to you might not seem so cheap to a coworker having money troubles. If asked by your work buddies about your salary, personal finances or expenses, it’s best to avoid answering—pretend you don’t remember what you paid for your new bag or simply say you would prefer not to discuss your paycheck.
It’s difficult for your coworkers to take you seriously if they know you spent Saturday night praying to the porcelain god in the bathroom of a bar. Even if you work with people your own age, you run the risk of being overheard by your boss or another higher-up when you are talking about your wild weekends at work, which could reflect poorly on you.
And definitely, keep it together when going out for a company happy hour or attending office parties by limiting how much you drink. You don’t want to earn yourself a reputation as a sloppy party goer or the office drunk. If your coworkers become friends you socialize with outside of work—or even share an apartment with—be sure to establish ground rules for keeping your personal and professional lives separate. Keep any discussion of booze-fueled escapades out of the office, and mind what you post on social media.
Remember that at work, you are coworkers first and friends second.
Under no circumstances should you steal printer paper to compile an office Burn Book.
Speaking critically of the people you work with can keep you from being seen as a team player and cause others to wonder if you say similar things about them behind their backs. This, in turn, creates a hostile work environment that can make doing your job much more difficult, particularly if you need to collaborate with your coworkers in order to accomplish your work. If you must vent about the annoying girl in the cube next to yours, save it for your non-work friends and family so that it doesn’t get back to anyone who might have their feelings hurt.
In the event that you do get pulled into a gossipy conversation, don’t contribute to it.
Religion and Politics
Chances are, neither subject is related to your job. Discussing divisive political issues or matters of faith can lead to resentment.
There's a stat that to be a fully engaged employee, you need to have a best friend at work. I know you’re thinking, “how can you make friends without getting personal?” When making friends at work, stick to fun topics like your hobbies, music, food, sports, your neighborhood, movies and other broad topics you can use to connect with people. As always, religion, sex, and politics are good topics to avoid and are better for making enemies than friends.
If any of these subjects do come up, don’t let it become an in-depth discussion of your personal beliefs.
Plans to Quit
Even if you think you can trust your coworkers to keep your plans to give two weeks’ notice private, it’s best to keep it quiet until it’s a done deal. You may have misjudged their willingness or ability to keep your secrets, or they could simply slip up in front of your boss. You don’t want word getting out that you’re applying for jobs elsewhere until you’re ready to make that announcement yourself. If your boss knows you’re considering moving on, they might make that decision for you and fire you before you’re ready to quit.
Pro-Tip: Your boss should be the first to know, but if she or he finds out from your coworkers, then it’s time to immediately speak to him or her and apologize for the information leak.
Keep in mind that even if your boss accepts your apology and keeps you on board, this makes for tense office interactions until you do leave on your own terms. If you’re excited about a new job prospect or are thinking about going to grad school, call up your parents or college friends rather than discussing those plans with your coworkers.
Workplace friendships can be rewarding, but remember that this is your job, not your college dorm. Maintain a high level of professionalism when interacting with anyone from your office, and you’ll make your transition into the working world that much smoother.