Career Step Up has permission to republish this great post by Max at Wealth of Geeks. There’s a fine line between work and personal life and personal opinions and it is easy for that line to become blurred. This post looks at three topics you should avoid when talking with work colleagues.
Drama can make any workplace instantly unbearable, especially if it is unnecessary.
Even if you are the type of person who attempts to avoid drama at all costs, it can be hard to remove yourself when drama surrounds you daily.
Seemingly casual conversations can cause all sorts of ripples in your work environment. Here are three topics that employees and employers should avoid at all costs, even in a work-from-home environment.
These 3 Topics Will Create Workplace Dramas
Even though religion is incorporated into many aspects of our lives, it is not an appropriate work topic. Faith is a very personal and vital thing to some people, and it is something that they will vehemently defend.
Mentioning it in passing is alright, but going into depth can easily fall into dangerous territory, especially if you are having that discussion with someone who practices a different faith from your own.
Work is not an appropriate environment for religious conversation. Your coworkers certainly do not want to hear you talking about how you disagree with their beliefs and that they should adopt yours.
When you attempt to force your own beliefs on others while diminishing the value of their faith, it can easily lead to accusations of religious discrimination.
These accusations can create an unsavory outcome and can easily be avoided by keeping the conversations about religion to a minimum.
Politics is probably one of the most emotionally charged topics one can discuss, especially in more recent years. People tend to dig their feet into the sand about, especially when their long-help political beliefs are questioned.
“I am personally not sure that there are any political topics that can safely be discussed in the workplace,” says Susan Heathfield, a management consultant, company owner, and writer of About.com’s Human Resources section.
Considering how divided the country is right now in the political realm, any conversations about politics can quickly go south.
Expressing your political affiliations at work can also create a lack of productivity and bias in the workplace.
When people get riled up about topics they are passionate about, it can be hard to cool down enough to focus, especially if the conversations you are having are all turning into debates.
Managers or upper-level management may also show a bias towards employees who share their political affiliation. Coworkers may also view you differently once you take a stance.
Knowing and discussing everyone’s political standing at work can also create a sense of isolation or discrimination in the minority.
An individual in the political minority may feel like they could become a target for bullying and harassment from the majority in the future and may feel isolated from their coworkers.
“You have to make sure these discussions don’t run afoul. In general, [political discussion in the office] is a minefield for employers,” says Andrew Moskowitz, an employment and labor department partner at the New Jersey-based law firm Pashman Stein.
Nothing can divide a room quite like politics, so it is best to avoid this hot button topic at work.
3. Your Love Life
You will often hear the phrase romance sells. While that may be the case in some environments, work is not one of them.
According to a survey of over 1,000 Americans on insurancequotes.com, your love life is the number one topic people find inappropriate to discuss. 71% of workers say that this is a no-no conversation to have.
And yet, so many people still discuss it. It can be a juicy subject and often involves dramatic embellishments and embarrassing mishaps that make the gossip more entertaining for listeners.
But does it make it more entertaining or simply more cringe-worthy? You also have to discern whether the conversation is intentionally inappropriate (this would be considered harassment) or simply your coworker looking for attention.
If it turns out to be the latter, and you are not interested in giving your ears a bleach bath on your break for the sake of not seeming rude to your coworker, there is a more delicate way to approach the situation.
“Without being needlessly rude, you do have the right to make it clear that you have no interest in hearing further about a colleague’s taboo subject,” says NYC-based career strategist Carlota Zimmerman.
If you feel that your coworker is simply trying to form a connection with you, you can always change the subject to something more appropriate that could still establish that connection they are looking for.
If the conversations continue, it may be time to pull them aside and gently but firmly set the boundary that while you like them and consider them an acquaintance or even friend, you are not comfortable discussing that topic, especially not at work.
If they continue to push that boundary, it might be time to get HR involved. At the end of the day, you’re at work to do a job, not to be someone’s therapist.
Do your best not to get roped in because you think they need you or just need a friend. What they probably need is therapy. If you can successfully point them in the direction of the resources they need to get help, great. If not, you can always pass on the task to HR or management.
While work may not be enjoyable for most people, unnecessary workplace drama can make it even more unbearable. Hot button topics such as religion, politics, and love life can cause division and contempt in even the most positive work environments.
While some would argue that workplaces should be more open and inclusive with the topics discussed in the office, it can usually do more harm than good to the company culture.
The last thing management wants is bullying and discrimination claims because employees are being isolated or ganged up on for expressing their beliefs.
Therefore, it is best always to leave your personal matters at the door and practice professionalism at work.
Featured image credit: Unsplash.