Having a chat with your coworker to break up the workday crunch is a great way to maintain social relationships at work. It also promotes better communication, relationship establishment and productivity boosts from interacting with work colleagues in a friendly manner.
Getting too close and familiar with your coworkers could be detrimental to how you are perceived. Specific phrases or conversations you may have could make you sound unprofessional or like you are harassing someone during these chats.
Some ways to avoid inappropriate topics of conversation while in the workplace include
- Don’t spread rumours, negative comments or gossip about others in the workplace.
- Be selective about what you compliment as commenting about a coworker’s physical appearance is often deemed unprofessional.
- Negatively commenting about race, religion, politics, or even child-rearing is unwise, unprofessional and could land you in legal hot water.
- Consider how you phrase sentences – “I’m sorry to be a bother” can easily be replaced by “Do you have a moment” and comes across more positively. Similarly, saying “I think” in conversation might denote uncertainty in yourself and project a lack of confidence.
- Personal issues, like family troubles, medical complaints or relationship woes, can be discussed – but do so in moderation, and be mindful of your audience. Your coworker friend might be more interested in your weekend exploits than your boss, for instance.
Generally, common sense and discretion are your best indicators of what constitutes appropriate work talk. If you wouldn’t say it in front of your boss, it probably shouldn’t be spoken in the workplace.