13 Things Not to Share with Your Co-workers
By Rachel Zupek, CareerBuilder.com writer
It’s happened to everyone before. The constant flow of words that just keep coming, long after you’ve made your point (if there ever was one) and even longer after people stopped caring. The kind of gibberish that just won’t stop unless someone else starts talking. The type of chatter that inevitably ends with you wishing you’d put a sock in it.
Yes, verbal diarrhea is never a good thing – but it can be worse in some places more than others.
Like the workplace.
There are certain things co-workers need not know about each other – your baby-making plans and stomach issues, for example – but some folks just can’t seem to keep their mouths shut.
Some people talk to hear the sound of their own voice; others share because they don’t really have a life and, by revealing details you’d rather not know, they create the illusion of one, says Linda Lopeke, a career advancement expert and creator of SmartStart Virtual Mentoring Programs. “Then there is the person who believes gossip, even about them, creates instant emotional intimacy. It doesn’t.”
Walk the line
Because people spend more time at the office with co-workers than anywhere (or anyone) else, some workers have trouble drawing the line between business and friendship, says Susan Solovic, co-founder and CEO of SBTV.com, and author of three books, including “Reinvent Your Career: Attain the Success You Desire and Deserve.”
“It’s a social environment as well as a work environment. However, you must remember while you can be friendly and develop a good rapport, business is business and friendship is friendship.”
Most workers don’t realize that what they say has as much impact on their professional images as what they wear, Lopeke says. People who say too much, about themselves or others, can be seen as incompetent, unproductive and unworthy of professional development.
To avoid your next case of verbal diarrhea, here are 13 things to never share or discuss with your co-workers.
1. Salary information
What you earn is between you and Human Resources, Solovic says. Disclosure indicates you aren’t capable of keeping a confidence.
2. Medical history
“Nobody really cares about your aches and pains, your latest operation, your infertility woes or the contents of your medicine cabinet,” Lopeke says. To your employer, your constant medical issues make you seem like an expensive, high-risk employee.
Whomever you’re gossiping with will undoubtedly tell others what you said, Solovic says. Plus, if a co-worker is gossiping with you, most likely he or she will gossip about you.
4. Work complaints
Constant complaints about your workload, stress levels or the company will quickly make you the kind of person who never gets invited to lunch, Solovic warns. If you don’t agree with company policies and procedures, address it through official channels or move on.
5. Cost of purchases
The spirit of keeping up with the Joneses is alive and well in the workplace, Lopeke says, but you don’t want others speculating on the lifestyle you’re living –or if you’re living beyond your salary bracket.
6. Intimate details
Don’t share intimate details about your personal life. Co-workers can and will use the information against you, Solovic says.
7. Politics or religion
“People have strong, passionate views on both topics,” Solovic says. You may alienate a co-worker or be viewed negatively in a way that could impact your career.
8. Lifestyle changes
Breakups, divorces and baby-making plans should be shared only if there is a need to know, Lopeke says. Otherwise, others will speak for your capabilities, desires and limitations on availability, whether there is any truth to their assumptions or not.
9. Blogs or social networking profile
What you say in a social networking community or in your personal blog may be even more damaging than what you say in person, Solovic warns. “Comments online can be seen by multiple eyes. An outburst of anger when you are having a bad day … can blow up in your face.”
10. Negative views of colleagues
If you don’t agree with a co-worker’s lifestyle, wardrobe or professional abilities, confront that person privately or keep it to yourself, Lopeke says. The workplace is not the venue for controversy.
11. Hangovers and wild weekends
It’s perfectly fine to have fun during the weekend, but don’t talk about your wild adventures on Monday, Solovic advises. That information can make you look unprofessional and unreliable.
12. Personal problems and relationships – in and out of the office
“Failed marriages and volatile romances spell instability to an employer,” Lopeke says. Office romances lead to gossip and broken hearts, so it’s best to steer clear. “The safest way to play is to follow the rule, ‘Never get your honey where you get your money.’”
13. Off-color or racially charged comments
You can assume your co-worker wouldn’t be offended or would think something is funny, but you might be wrong, Solovic says. Never take that risk. Furthermore, even if you know for certain your colleague wouldn’t mind your comment, don’t talk about it at work. Others can easily overhear.
Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.