The workplace is somewhere you want to feel comfortable, confident, and content. But unless you eat, sleep, and breathe professionalism, most people have go into “work mode” each day and remain mindful of what to say — and what not to say — while at the office. Because, hey, you can’t exactly have the same conversations with coworkers at the office that you could necessarily have with, say, a group of friends while out drinking, or with your family while sitting at the dinner table.
U.S. News & World Report published an article a few years back that included 40 things that you can’t talk about while at work. The list included topics ranging from your messy house to how much you hate your job, to the size of your intimate body parts.
The office isn’t exactly the place to relax and put your feet up. It’s also not the place to discuss certain financial topics, either. Read on to see what financial topics you should keep out of your conversations at the office.
1. A loved one who mooches
An informal online poll by Social Statistics found that at least 12% of people borrow money from loved ones several times per year without any interest attached, and 2% say they borrow from their loved ones several times per month.
If you have a friend or family member who consistently looks to you or your other loved ones for money or other resources, this can be a tough situation. But it’s not a situation you should discuss with your coworkers around the office.
Why? Well, you may feel differently than your coworkers do about lending money to friends and family. Your coworkers may think that it’s something people should be ready and willing to do at the drop of a hat, and you may feel like it’s inappropriate to ask loved ones for money on a repeated basis (or vice versa).
Also, anytime you’re discussing a subject that enters into an area where it could sound like you’re bad-mouthing someone — even if you’re just venting — that’s a subject you want to stay far away from while at work.
2. How you don’t make enough money
Along with politics and sex, salary talk at work (among coworkers) can be considered taboo. It’s not that you’re not allowed to talk about your salary — it’s just not a very good idea. When you go around the office talking about how you only make such and such an amount of money but you feel like you’re entitled to more, it makes you look unprofessional.
It also places your colleagues in a tough spot. What if they make more than you? If they tell you, they place themselves at risk of having their salary information shared if you decide to use it as ammo to prove your case that you deserve more money. If you ask them and they don’t tell you, it can look as though they’re being secretive. It’s better to just leave it alone.
If you’re having money problems, some companies offer financial wellness services, counseling services, and other forms of help that you can take advantage of.
3. Your debt and your credit score
Your credit file is private and personal. So much so that you have to sign a consent for an employer (or anyone) to perform a credit check on you. These days, an employer may very well check your credit prior to hiring you; around half of employers do, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
But even when employers check credit, that information stays private, and it certainly does not spread around the office. For instance, Jane from the next cubicle over will not talk about how she heard “Joe barely got the job because of his low credit.”
And when you are hired at a company, you should refrain from talking about your credit and debt history with your coworkers. That’s your personal business. Plus, you don’t want to make anyone feel pressured to discuss their personal financial situation, especially if that’s something he or she struggles with.