Danger Zone: 5 Things to Avoid Discussing at Work

April 28, 2021


Career success involves managing the image that you present at work. To be viewed in a professional light, you must give some thought to the way you are perceived. It’s easy though for little things to snowball among teammates and create an overall attitude problem that’s counterproductive to team morale, and efficient and effective partnership.

Here are some simple problems you would be wise to avoid yourself, and monitor among your team if you’re a supervisor:

  1. TMI – sharing too much information

No one needs to hear details of your abdominal surgery, your bout with nausea, your sexual positions, or your Spandex briefs. Never share information that would conjure up an unprofessional image of yourself.

  1. Complaints about your boss

Everyone has challenges with their supervisor from time to time, but if you discuss your feelings about your boss, the news will get back to him or her eventually, making things more complicated. No one wants to be labeled by management as "difficult to work with.” It’s always best to address issues directly with the involved parties and approach them from a solutions-oriented stand point.

  1. Gossiping

Although gossip is addictive and hard to avoid, spreading unkind or private information about colleagues can create trouble and resentment. Any information that might damage another person should never be repeated, and it’s also wise to assume what others share with you is fo your ears only, unless they explicitly say otherwise. It’s far easier to err on the side on caution on that, than the reverse and assume all is fair game unless told not to share. If you have to whisper or lower your voice, you may want to rethink.

  1. “Politicking”

Almost everyone gives some thought to political strategy at work. But open political plotting is counterproductive to a true team-focused environment. It’s natural for upwardly mobile and ambitious individuals to want to promote themselves and develop relationships. However, it should be apparent to you if you’re crossing a line when it begins to feel more like espionage. We repeat: If you have to whisper or lower your voice, rethink.

  1. Job search activities

This one really should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how often HR teams observe this. Smart people never mention their job searches and plans to leave their current employer to anyone at work or get caught searching jobs at their desks. Employees who either publicly express their desire to leave or are perceived as being not invested in their team and work may quickly become replaceable.  Word spreads quickly (& often quietly!), so just assume your boss will hear the news; it’s best to keep these to yourself. (Of course, if you’re looking to grow within your company, that’s a different animal!)


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