From friendly cubicle banter and sharing weekend plans beside the Keurig machine to exchanging thoughts on the upcoming season of Stranger Things, indulging in conversation with coworkers is an important component of company culture.
When you consider the number of hours consumed by work - approximately 44 hours per week according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – forging relationships with your colleagues seems inevitable. In a comparable survey conducted in 2014 by Gallup, they concluded that American employees dedicate upwards of 47 hours per week towards their workplace grind.
With our career’s occupying such a large portion of our lives, it should come as no surprise that our colleagues have wiggled their way into our hearts, becoming much like a secondary family. Although these relationships are gratifying, providing us with some much-needed sustenance during disappointing setbacks or particularly strenuous days, there is still a certain level of proper etiquette required in the workplace.
Being engaged with your fellow coworkers can boost productivity and promote collaborative practices, but one impolite or unprofessional comment can breed a slew of HR-related headaches, and even possible termination. An offensive remark or inappropriate discussion can easily be overheard, even unintentionally, and result in unpleasant consequences.
Next time you’re chatting with teammates, ask yourself the following: Would I have this conversation with my boss? Here are some common no-no’s that you should refrain from saying in the workplace.
Sometimes work is going to feel like you’ve been condemned to the 5th circle of Dante’s Inferno. However, comments like these should be reserved for your parents, partner, or a friend outside of the office. Verbalizing pessimistic feelings not only deflates morale, but you’ll also drive away coworkers who are looking to escape the negative energy oozing from your cubicle. Reserve the venting for an unbiased third party like Mr. Whiskers, and if you’re truly unhappy, consider looking for a new job.
You never want to be labeled as untrustworthy because of an addiction to spreading gossip. Postpone any scandal-related pursuits for your personal time when you can indulge in all the celebrity gossip websites your heart desires. Contributing to the rumor mill or bad-mouthing a coworker will only serve to tarnish your own reputation. Running a smear campaign against your teammates will cause your office buddies to question your loyalty and start wondering if they’re the subject of your conversation when they’re not around.
Everyone deserves a little R&R from time-to-time – especially when it comes to maintaining your mental health. While there’s nothing wrong with a periodic timeout, it’s best to keep this information to yourself to ensure nobody accidentally spills the beans in the presence of your boss.
As tempting as it may be, you need to refrain from sharing that you’re actively seeking a new job opportunity. Likewise, if you’ve decided to accept an offer for a new role, do not broadcast the details to your colleagues until you’ve spoken with your boss about your plans to move forward with your career. It would be extremely unprofessional if the news was broken to your boss before you were able to approach them yourself.
Cheesy pick-up lines aside, there are appropriate ways to compliment your coworkers without trekking down the sexual harassment path. Tread lightly here, making a comment about a colleague’s physical appearance can easily be misconstrued – even if your intentions were truly innocent and came from a genuine place.
While your sweet-tooth may be craving the insider scoop on what your coworkers are making, asking for a side-by-side comparison is off limits. There is no winning in this scenario – either you make more than your work pal and the newfound intelligence leaves them reeling, or they have a heartier compensation package and that leaves your insides boiling with resentment. This kind of ‘price-comparison shopping’ is not an effective means for evaluating your worth and it will only lead to someone feeling disappointed.
We are all guilty of strolling into the office with a pounding headache, queasy stomach, and thoughts of regret regarding our over-indulgence the night before. However, as a professional, you should forgo the Tuesday evening happy hour if it equates to being hungover and unproductive the next day. No matter how down-to-earth your boss may be, they certainly don’t want to hear how you shot-gunned several beers after work and are now tending to a massively inappropriate hangover. Either celebrate your much-deserved promotion or your significant other’s birthday on the weekend, or refrain from advertising it in the office if it’s going to implicate your work.
Every once in a while we all contract an unavoidable case of unproductive employee syndrome. Symptoms include: pursuing the internet for the latest Game of Thrones fan-fiction, challenging random opponents to a battle of Words with Friends, and scouring your social media feeds for the latest engagement announcements and travel photos. When an occasion like this arises, do yourself a favor and do not publicize how useless your day has been. Instead, when the following morning rolls around, get inspired to bring your A-game and crush it at the office.