How well do you know the people you work with? How well do they really know you? According to Fast Company, workers in the U.S. have a median tenure of around 4.4 years. You could get to know a person pretty well during that time — especially a person you spend 40 hours each week with.
But do your co-workers know you as well as, say, your roommate or a close friend does? Probably not. Even though you spend a great deal of time with your colleagues, it’s generally unwise to tell them personal information that doesn’t pertain to work. Think of it this way: If you wouldn’t want your boss and the rest of the office knowing something about you, it’s probably best to keep the information to yourself. Here are 10 things you should not share with your co-workers.
1. Your personal and political beliefs
Work is usually not the place to talk about your political views. You can’t assume everyone has the same thoughts as you do. When you share your views on political and societal issues — especially if you have extreme left- or right-leaning ideals — people might not take what you have to say on other topics as seriously.
“You want to put some brakes on your conversation,” author Anna Post tells The Wall Street Journal. “People assume that others think what they think, that everyone wants to hear their opinion. But politics can really divide.”
Next: This should be between you and your doctor.
2. Medical information
You might be comfortable telling your co-workers about a flu you had, and you might even be comfortable telling them you’re diabetic or have another medical condition. But some conditions are not as common, and others have stigma attached to them. Of course, you should follow any policies your company has on dealing with illnesses. But in most cases, information about your medical history, such as the prescriptions you take, is something you should refrain from sharing with co-workers.
If you are in a situation where it’s necessary you share your medical limitations with your co-workers to perform your job effectively, this still doesn’t mean you have to tell them specifics. “This may mean that instead of telling co-workers you were recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you could say you have a disease that means you will periodically have debilitating fatigue that lasts for up to 48 hours and that you need to figure out a way to accommodate for that without getting in the way of the team’s productivity,” Forbes reports.
Next: Things got pretty crazy last weekend.
3. Marijuana or alcohol use
Although marijuana is legal in many states, unless you work at a place that deals in marijuana it’s probably a good idea to keep your use to yourself. People are still absorbing the whole marijuana legalization concept, and it might come as a shock to your co-workers to find out you get high during your downtime.
Similarly, if you go out to bars and drink alcohol on the weekends — or if you had a wild and crazy weeknight partying — you should keep that to yourself at work, too. This is a touchy subject for people. Alcohol or drug dependency affects around 20 million Americans.
Next: How much do you make?
4. Salary information
“How much do you make, Joe? What about you, Jane? I make $10,000 less than both of you. That’s not fair!” Most career coaches advise against polling your co-workers about their pay.
“The risks include your co-worker becoming jealous of you (or you getting jealous of them when you realize you’re underpaid), your manager finding out you did this and punishing you … or your co-worker blabbing what you make all around the office,” career coach Nicole Williams tells Forbes.
If you want a raise, it’s probably best to show your employer you deserve more money because of your skills and work ethic, not because Joe and Jane make more money than you do.
Next: What’s your problem?
5. Financial problems
It can be tough to get through each work day when you’re dealing with financial problems. Your mind might be focused on those issues instead of on work. And you might be tempted to talk about them with someone — anyone — so you can feel a bit better. Try to refrain, though, as you more than likely don’t want this personal information about you going around the office. Once your troubles have passed, you might regret your decision to share.
Next: They’re so much drama.
6. Personal drama
Just like your financial problems, it’s probably best to leave your personal drama at home. For one, drama doesn’t do your professional image any favors. If you’re always complaining about how you can’t hold down a steady relationship some co-workers might apply that to your commitment at work. Plus, while you complain about petty problems a co-worker might be silently going through something major. Just put a lid on the drama.
Next: Cover for me while I go off and have a life.
7. Major life events
Getting married? Having a baby? Planning to take a really long cruise? Unless they’re monsters, your co-workers will share in your joy and excitement. But hold up. Before you let a major life event slip to your colleagues be sure to tell your boss first. If said life event is going to majorly disrupt the workflow the responsible thing to do is to clue in your boss before anyone else.
Plus, once you’ve said your piece about your exciting news, don’t talk about it every subsequent day. Listening to someone plan their entire wedding from one cubicle over is extremely distracting — especially if the rest of the office isn’t even invited. Not to mention it’s obvious you’re not getting any work done.
Next: Did you hear the latest?
8. Personal information about other co-workers
Did you just hear a juicy secret about a co-worker? Or did they confide in you themselves? The worst thing you can do is to fuel the office rumor mill with personal information about your co-workers. Maybe it’s false. Maybe it’s something they expected you to keep secret. And maybe it’s something they really need to tell the boss before word gets out. Regardless, other people’s personal information is not yours to tell.
Next: I can’t stand this place!
9. Your problems with the company or your boss
Yes, everyone has days when they can’t stand their jobs. But you shouldn’t actually voice those feelings at work. “It’s understandable that you need to vent once in awhile, but the office isn’t the right place to do it,” Payscale reports. “Negativity isn’t constructive. People are trying to get through the day with a good attitude. Don’t bring them down.”
Next: I’m out of here!
10. Your plans to find a better job
Are you looking for a new job you’ll like better? That’s great. But until you’ve signed on the dotted line and informed your boss of your impending departure keep your job hunt to yourself.
“Sharing this with your co-workers may cause them to instinctively distance themselves, knowing you will no longer be a part of the team,” etiquette expert Rosalinda Oropeza Randall tells Business Insider. “They also might unintentionally leak the information to your supervisor, which could explain your lack of productivity and absences, resulting in a poor reference or an invitation to pick up your paycheck earlier than you expected.”
Additional reporting by Erika Rawes.