Conversations to Avoid at the Workplace

I recall plenty of occasions throughout my career when inappropriate conversations were made by coworkers, peers and managers. The timeframe is 2009/2010. A series of unprofessional, negative, hurtful behaviors directed at me catapulted me to a place where I could no longer work. I recall a manager would continually refer to women in a demeaning and negative manner. Based on this managers unrelently comments bashing women I suspect he had experienced a recent bad break-up or divorce. Whether In our staff meetings, budget meetings, or project meetings (you get the idea) he would interject statements to include negative comments and innuendos about an unknown woman in particular and women in general. His comments were annoying and bothersome not just to me but to both men and women in attendance at those meetings.

At this juncture, my career in corporate America spanned over 30-years so being the mature woman that I’m I reported his behavior to Human Resources. Thereafter his negative comments about this unknown woman and women in general stopped but i immediately became a target for his crude and unprofessional behavior. His ploys against me included but were not limited to blind-siding me in meetings and ridiculing me in front of my staff and peers. I could do nothing right. In my humble opinion, his negative behavior against me rose to a level of retaliation.

In today’s workplace women and men are empowered. We no longer need to tolerate unprofessional behavior regardless of what form it manifest itself. I stand by my actions to report this man to HR and I would do the same today. I encourage women and men to find your voice and strength and not be afraid to report unprofessional comments and behavior to higher ups.

I’ve compiled a list of inappropriate conversations to avoid in the workplace that I hope provides you with a helpful reference for your workplace toolkit.

  1. Three topics you should avoid at the office are sex, politics and religion.
  2. Problems in your relationship, even if you’ve just broken up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, avoid discussing it with coworkers. If you must mention it to explain your emotional behavior, do so briefly. Otherwise, reserve the breakup talk for you and your BFF.
  3. Talking about sex can also be considered sexual harassment, which can devastate your career. Avoid discussing the sexuality of others.
  4. Don’t disclose who you voted for.because coworkers could judge you or take offense to your political affiliations.
  5. Talking about your personal life at work is fine and can help to build relationships with co-workers. Family, hobbies, and weekend activities are part of our lives and talking about them help to connect with people. But be wary of bringing excessive private details of your life to work.
  6. Off-color jokes that poke fun at race, religion, sex or even hair color are forbidden and should be avoided at work. You should avoid any topic that smells of racism, sexism or any type of discrimination. The best course is to err on the side of caution and avoid these topics.
  7. Every office experiences negative events and sometimes those events are caused by management. The problem is that sometimes talk of these negative events overshadow the positive contributions made by management and others.  An employee with a negative attitude is far less likely to be productive and far less desirable to work with.  Even worse, negativity is contagious – It can spread quickly to others in the office, dragging down morale and destroying productivity among the entire office.  We don’t all need to be cheerleaders for management, but we do need to keep events in perspective and not allow negativity to damage a good working environment.
  8. Avoid gossip. Even if you did not start a rumor, you may be perceived as a problem if you help to perpetuate that rumor. It’s best to remove yourself from these conversations.  Talking about someone behind their back almost never does any good. Avoid gossip at all costs. Coworkers may confide in you about the obnoxious employee who always micromanages or the lazy employee who makes thousands more than you. Do not engage in these conversations.
  9. It’s great to pursue higher career aspirations, but keep those dreams of breaking out of the cubicle to yourself until you get home.
  10. Never, under any circumstance, reveal your salary to your coworkers. You may trust your coworkers and hang out with them outside of the workplace, but it’s still never a good idea to reveal your paycheck.
  11. Your finances. No one wants to hear about your accumulating debt or how you will pay your rent or mortgage. Discussing money problems can make people feel uncomfortable. Avoid these conversations. These things are better left to discuss with your family or financial adviser.

Consider being kind, respectful and professinal to one another. Now isn’t that a novel idea?

If you experience a work related problem that you feel is not being addressed I encourage you to report the situation to higher ups. Human Resource is there to help. The workplace is not a place for harrament of any kind.

PS: A shout out to the young man who asked me to complie a list on this topic. Happy tears.

 

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