6 Topics to Avoid Discussing at Work

Some subjects make for bad workplace conversations. These six topics that you should avoid discussing at work could make things awkward, or even quite unpleasant, between you and your coworkers. Without these subjects, what can you talk about? Try safe topics like movies, music, and food (especially if you bring some to share).

Religion

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While religion seems to be discussed everywhere, from the campaign trail to the sports field to the awards ceremony stage, it is a topic about which you should tread very lightly in the workplace. Faith is a very personal thing about which people are often sensitive. You don't have to hide your religion, and you can mention things you do to celebrate it, but realize that not everyone worships the same way as you.

Do not discuss your own religious beliefs in depth and keep any negative opinions you might have about others' beliefs or lack thereof to yourself. Your coworkers likely don't want to hear that you disagree with them about this or that you believe your religion is the right one for everyone. Never, no matter what, try to persuade anyone to convert to your faith.

Politics

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Politics is probably a more volatile topic than any other. It causes tempers to flare and has ended relationships, even between close friends and family. Given the amount of time you spend at work, and the need to get along and work side-by-side with your colleagues, having conversations about it is just not worth it.

While you may feel very strongly about your party or the candidate you support, or you may have an intensely unfavorable opinion of the opposition, do not try to win your coworkers over to your side. It will be a futile effort that will just cause hard feelings between you and them.

Your Sex Life

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Don't ever discuss details about your sex life. Really. There is entirely no reason for anyone to know what goes on between you and your partner or partners. This topic of conversation makes many people squirm and can make your relationship with your coworkers awkward.

Furthermore, if someone feels intimidated or thinks you have created an offensive work environment, he or she may have grounds to file a sexual harassment complaint against you. If you genuinely need to confide in someone other than your partner, a good friend will have to do.

Problems With Your Spouse, Your Children, or Your Parents

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Will problems with family members distract you from doing your job? While you may know they won't, will your boss or coworkers? When you discuss these issues with them, they may begin to wonder if your work will suffer.

When, as a supervisor or manager, you are candid about your problems, it may reveal weaknesses to your subordinates. This may undermine your authority. In addition, highlighting your problems will feed the rumor mill, possibly making you become the subject of workplace gossip.

Your Career Aspirations

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You may think of your current job as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. There isn't anything wrong with that. However, keep it to yourself. Talking about your ambitions will, for a good reason, make your boss and coworkers question your loyalty to them. Some coworkers may even resent you.

If you are interested in advancing within your current organization, do your job exceptionally well, and of course, let your boss know you want to move up through the company's ranks. Your actions will speak for you.  If your plans for the future include leaving your current job to climb the ladder, don't announce that until you are ready to make your move.

Your Health Problems

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Even though health issues—mental or physical—are nothing to be ashamed of, you shouldn't dwell on them too much at work. You may or may not choose to talk about them at all, or you may be very open. Regardless of how much, or how little, you disclose, you shouldn't share every last detail of your condition.

In deciding how much to share, keep in mind that knowing about your health issues, just like being aware of your problems with family, could make your colleagues question what impact they could have on your ability to do your job. It's not that they would be at all correct about it, but it will put doubt in their minds.