Friendships with your co-workers are inevitable — and a great way to connect to your workplace — but it’s important to set a few conversation boundaries. Avoid these four topics to maintain a sense of professionalism and keep your office relationships work-appropriate.
- Dollars and cents: It’s no secret that salary talk should be avoided, but it’s not just paychecks that ought to remain private. Debt, mortgage, and loans — yours or anyone else’s — are a personal concern, and if money matters come up, the best thing to do is sidestep the subject and steer the conversation elsewhere.
- Office rumours: There will always be cubicle gossip, but that doesn’t mean you need to participate. You want to be known for your work, not your rumour radar. Even if you trust a co-worker and your intentions are good, there’s still a chance that you’ll be misunderstood, overheard, or otherwise caught up in the drama. Use your wit to comment on last night’s TV highlights instead.
- Job status: If your boss offers you a raise or a promotion, by all means, celebrate! Call your significant other, your family, or your friends, but don’t bring it up to a co-worker unless asked directly. Wait until an announcement is made or until your title officially changes; raising the subject yourself might seem boastful or rude.
- Intimate issues: Of course you’ll mention the happenings in your life to the people around you, but remember to set limits on what you reveal. Even if you feel close to your co-workers, they’re still your co-workers, and some things simply shouldn’t be shared with office-mates. The high points of your family holiday? Fair game. The nitty-gritty details of your personal relationships? Unnecessary. When in doubt, ask yourself if it’s something you’d want your superiors to know. That will put things in perspective.
The bottom line: You will and should befriend the people who work alongside you, because getting along with co-workers can make your 9 to 5 pass in a snap. Just remember that those relationships are rooted in the workplace, so how and what you communicate can shape your business reputation.