I am fortunate enough to have a great bunch of co-workers at my office. They are like my second family. I have gotten to know many them personally and for the most part, we enjoy each other’s company and occasional conversations outside of the normal work related topics. For example, many of them, myself not included, love to play fantasy football and it is always a daily topic of conversation. We also love to discuss other sports, certain news events, our families, cars, home projects and certain high-tech gadgets that are coming out. I love to chat with my co-workers and friends about those things, however, there are certain topics that are completely off-limits to me. For instance, telling a dirty blonde joke or any other dirty joke at work is totally unprofessional. Sure it may amuse you or a select group of people, but it may offend some other co-worker or co-workers. This is especially true in a work environment of both sexes. Offensive comments or jokes can certainly create some friction between people at work and that is the last thing any company or business needs. I would like to share a few subjects that I try very hard to avoid talking about while at work.
1) Any health malady. Nearly every work place has someone who is not ashamed to discuss every little ailment that is bothering them. You know, the person who talks about how many times they had to run to the bathroom the previous night because of a stomach disorder (perhaps too much Mexican food!). Or the person who has some sort of nasal problem and they go into great detail for the entire office to hear. Some of those details belong and should stay at the doctor’s office.
2) Incompetence of a fellow employee or management. This is one subject that I really struggle with. It is so easy to chime in when one of your co-workers is ripping another employee or manager behind their back. Those words can get back to the co-worker or manager and you can get into a whole lot of trouble. Negative words about others can bring deep divisions in the work place and should be avoided at all costs. It could also cost you your job.
3) Sexual talk. Like I mentioned in my opening paragraph, any type of sexual talk or jokes has no place in the workplace unless you work in the sex industry. The same goes for intimate details about what you and your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend or partner do in the bedroom. What goes on in the bedroom should stay in the bedroom!! The rest of us do not need to know all the details!
4) Religion. In any workplace, there are bound to be many who have very differing views towards religion or Christianity. This is a very sensitive and difficult subject to deal with. I have no problem with some expressing their faith, however, there are those who may not share your views towards your faith and become agitated with your words. In some ways, it is almost the direct opposite of the dirty joke comments issue. Religion is a highly personal issue that can cause conflict among people. Another issue that can bring unwanted divisions at work.
5) Political issues. I find it amazing how politics can get people’s blood pressures up so high! People tend to take it personally when someone does not agree with their stance on a political issue or issues. I don’t think there are too many things that divide people more than politics and therefore, I tend to stay hush on that topic. Of course, politics does come up at work and I try hard to take a very neutral position if the subject does comes up. For example, when someone starts ripping either the Republicans or Democrats, I point out that both parties are incompetent just to calm down the discussion. Being some crazy vocal wing nut is not very appealing to many people and could greatly hurt your popularity at work. I have strong opinions on many political issues, however, I try to mask my true opinions as best as possible. No sense creating a bunch of tension at work over something as silly as politics.
In summary, I tend to strongly watch saying things that will offend someone else. Much of it is just using some common sense. My relationship with my co-workers is very important to me and I will strive to respect who they are. Those idle words from the mouth can have devastating long-lasting effects at the workplace. It will just create much disharmony and divisions among workers and make work a very unenjoyable place to be. Sometimes the best way to effectively communicate at work is simply keeping your mouth shut!