Do you feel that your office is your home away from home since you spend so much time there? Have you ever stood in a huddle by the coffee station at the office and discussed your innermost thoughts with the people you work with?
Are you guilty of chatting about the crazy things you did last weekend? Did your boss do something totally insane that you are dying to share with everyone?
The office is like a second home to most people who work, so it often becomes a comfortable environment that feels like a sanctuary where you can let your hair down. Be careful. As much as your coworkers and supervisor may seem like family, they're not. In fact, sharing too much information with the people you work with can be career suicide.
Office etiquette is a touchy issue that many people haven't thought about. As much as it may seem political, you need to be careful about what to say to your coworkers to protect your career.
Here are some things you need to refrain from discussing with your coworkers:
Complaints About Your Boss
Although your supervisor may be annoying, discussing your thoughts with other people in the office is one of the worst things you can do. Not only might someone slip up and repeat what you said at the next meeting, other people may overhear you.
Complaints About a Coworker Who Isn't There
No one is perfect, so there is plenty you can say about others in the office. But remember that it works both ways. There is probably some scathing thing your coworkers can say about you.
Saying That Something Isn't in Your Job Description
When you are hired, you probably received a job description listing all of the things you are expected to do. However, as time goes by and you become proficient at those duties, you may be ready to take on more tasks. Accept the fact that this is inevitable and embrace the changes with a smile. Consider it a compliment that someone has confidence in you to add to your list of duties.
Gossip and Rumors
One of the easiest places to spread gossip is in the office. After all, you see these people for eight hours, five days a week, so you're likely to see them at their very worst. But remember that they've been around you too. If the temptation to spread the latest rumor overwhelms you, walk away from the group that is starting it. You know who the office big mouths are, and chances are, so do your supervisors. Be nice to them but don't become one of them.
Discussing your personal life with coworkers can be a very touchy thing, even if you're friends with them outside of the office. Before you tell anyone about your husband's disgusting habits or your children's propensity to get in trouble at school, stop and think about your purpose. Is this something you really want these people to know?
Anything That Belittles or Makes Light of a Job
When someone comes to you with a work-related problem, don't tell that person anything that makes the situation seem trivial. Maybe all she needs is a chance to voice her concerns and someone who is willing to listen. Or perhaps she wants advice. Instead of saying, "That's no big deal," you can gently guide her toward a solution.
Rude Comments and Questions
Don't make rude comments or ask any personal questions such as, "Are you pregnant?" or "How much did you pay for that?" If your coworker wants you to know, she'll tell you. Until then, keep your mouth shut.
You're Looking for Another Job
No matter how much you trust your coworkers, remember that their professional loyalty is to the company you're currently with. If you are going on job interviews, the person in the cubicle next to yours might be suspicious, but it's not necessary to tell her. You need to protect your current position until you've accepted an offer for a new one.
Many companies have a policy against discussing your salary with others. Don't break this rule, or you risk being reprimanded. And you'll probably be overlooked for future promotions.
Debating Politics or Religion
There is a reason our grandparents had a rule to never discuss politics or religion during large gatherings. People are passionate about both subjects, and heated debates can cause friction among people who need to get along to accomplish work related goals. Find something else to discuss.