Ten Taboos at Work

April_shutterstock_96492581It’s tempting to open up to colleagues who often become friends. However, revealing the wrong kinds of information to a fellow worker can be a career killer. Show your professionalism in the workplace by not committing any of the ten taboos listed below.

  1. Admitting you hate your job. Don’t be the downer who sinks the morale of everyone around you. Remember that bosses know there’s always someone ready to replace you! If you voice your dissatisfaction with your current job, you may be out before you were planning on it.
  1. Saying so-and-so is incompetent. You are probably not breaking this news—your coworkers know who can do what—and your insensitivity will come back to you.
  1. Discussing religious and political beliefs. The workplace is the wrong place to discuss hot button issues. Besides, you may alienate or offend a colleague unintentionally and hurt your own career trajectory.
  1. Telling how much you earn. This opens doors to jealousy and endless comparisons. It’s a no-win for you.
  1. Friending colleagues or your boss on Facebook. It’s too easy for inappropriate behavior to be seen by a coworker or your boss looking through your Facebook posts. Once it’s been seen, it cannot be unseen, and you’ll never be viewed in the same way. Also, any records or data may remain online practically forever.
  1. Spilling private mattersyours and other people’s. There’s a reason intimate matters are considered private, especially in the workplace. Whether you’re a sad single or a swinging one, keep such personal matters to yourself at work. Likewise, keep mum about what you know or suspect about your coworkers.
  1. Confessing you’re after someone’s job. Trumpeting your ambitions, especially if they mean someone else’s loss, make you appear selfish and insensitive.
  1. Describing your drinking escapades. The more you talk about your crazy weekend of inebriation, the more your colleagues will think you are immature and lacking in good judgment.
  1. Sharing off-color jokes. If you have to think twice about whether to tell a joke, don’t tell it. You will likely offend someone and appear thoughtless.
  1. Acknowledging you’re job hunting. The minute you reveal your plan to leave, you’re persona non grata. Wait until after you’ve found a job to make the announcement.

Discussion Questions

  1. In what ways can talking about your personal life not show you in the best light and affect how your colleagues think of you? Can you think of examples that illustrate how workers can sabotage their careers with indiscretions online and offline?
  1. If you are eager to advance in your job, how might you behave to minimize others’ potentially negative reactions to your ambition?
  1. Many employee handbooks explicitly forbid the sharing of salary information. Why? How can discussing salary create wedges between coworkers?

Forbes, March 2015



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