Human Resources News & Insights

What not to tell co-workers

What do these three things have in common: Religion, politics and matters of the heart?

They are three items on’s list of “13 things to keep to yourself at work.”

Those three should be (we know, it’s not always the case) among the most obvious things that people shouldn’t talk about at work.

But there are some other less obvious suggestions that we like of things on the don’t-talk-about-this-at-work list:

  • Your privileged life. Despite what some people obviously believe, the rest of us aren’t interested in your latest hobnobbing with the A-list or how difficult it is to find a really good company to clean your Olympic-size pool.
  • Your Chris Rock routine. Comedians get paid to be edgy, daring and often offensive. Stand-up comics at work get disciplined or fired.
  • Online venting Web sites. Posting something online for the world to see that’s critical of your employer or co-workers is questionable enough. Letting your co-workers know about what you’ve posted is just plain stupid.

The complete list is online here.

Do you have something to add to this list? Or a story about how someone sunk themselves by talking about one of these items? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  1. While I agree with many of the topics on the list, especially matters of the heart, it’s hard not to know personal things about people you spend more awake time with than your family. I work for a small company and most people know that I am Catholic. If someone asks which high school I went to, he or she can figure that out. By discussing religion in a calm manner, I have learned a lot about other religions and my fellow employees.

  2. It’s hard when your boss specifically asks about your personal life. Those that choose to not answer her about personal information get treated differently than those that tell her their life story.

  3. I agree with Judy, by discussing in a calm manner I’ve had some very interesting discussions about religion with co-workers. I grew up Catholic in the Midwest and moved out West about 2 years ago. The area I moved to has a heavy Mormon population, and it was something I was always curious about given stories in the news. I have a good working relationship with another manager in the facility and at lunch one day I asked a few questions. I just told him it was something I didn’t know much about b/c I wasn’t exposed to it, so he was very informative and cleared up a lot of my mis-conceptions.

  4. In general, I agree with the list however it is more applicable to larger organizations. I work in a small company in a small town. We are all on a first name basis. Many of the employees went to high school together and many others have worked here for 20+ years. They, their spouses and children associate with each other outside of the work environment. This is generally beneficial because we know our co-workers as individuals as well which makes for a very supportive and friendly work environment.

  5. Believe it or not I actually agree with all of the 13 items. Mainly because situations have happened at work with all these 13 subjects (on separate occasions) where the individuals were either terminated or received a final written warning. For example, we had an individual who went to catholic school, and while at lunch discussed some of the inappropriate things this person did while attending the school. This individual then made a very tiny comment in reference to “catholic religion is really not what you think it is.” Well guess what, all hell broke loose. A lot of our employees happen to be hard core Catholics and they overheard her comment. I understand that we see our co-workers more than we see our family, but the reality is that we get paid to do a job and the world is changing drastically with all these new laws that are coming into place. As an HR professional I do speak with my employees on daily basis, however we discuss work related issues. If they need personal help, that’s why we have EAP, and Corporate Wellness program. I really make a priority and separate my personal life from my work life. Not everyone is able to this. Often, this can cause problems.

  6. Like Judy stated, you spend more time during the day with co-workers than family, it is kind of hard too avoid certain subjects. Just think back during the past election period

  7. Did anyone notice that this list was posted by CareerBuilder – the same CareerBuilder that supports on line venting? Talk about issues…

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