Conversation Topics to Avoid at Work

TMI Alert: 8 Conversation Topics to Avoid at Work

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Trouble may be on your mind, but it should not be on your lips.

This could very well be called the ‘TMI generation’. While sharing is all fine and dandy and you make personal rules about discussions, beware not to overshare. The dynamics of our workplaces today are evolving. While some are for merging our work and personal selves, there are those who champion maintaining professionalism in the office.

Think of your office as a bubble of professionalism. It’s a fragile enclosure that could easily pop by the things you choose to talk about while you’re there. Some topics are simply off limits at work. It doesn’t matter how innocent or good your intentions are, or how close you think you are to a person; get off the TMI train now because it’s on a losing track. (See what we did there?)


Religion / Politics

The big two. Religion is an extremely private subject that does not warrant a discussion in the office or the break room. Politics are a sensitive topic as well. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinions but you don’t want to risk someone overhearing you or starting an unexpected debate on either subject. Keep in mind that these topics only take you away from your work and you really don’t want anyone to take offence.

Problems at home

“Please don’t talk about the issues you have with your kids or your parents.” Anand, a Manager in Kuala Lumpur, shares with us.

It’s okay if you’re answering questions or briefly sharing about your family vacation or family traditions. It’s not okay to divulge personal information about your family members (they didn’t sign up for it). Your work and personal life may not intertwine but it doesn’t make you or your family member look good. Besides, everyone has problems with their own families. Join the club… just don’t talk about it.


You may be a fox in the bedroom and the boardroom but trust us when we say, no one wants to hear about the former. No matter how badly you want to break up the monotony of your workday, sex is not a topic you want to bring into your office. Sharing intimate details will only reflect poorly on you (and make everyone else uncomfortable). It can also be construed as sexual harassment.

TIP: Yes, this includes anything pertaining to the “50 Shades” franchise.

Career aspirations

Mapping your career path is as important as keeping it private. There’s no crime in having aspirations to move up in your company, but you still need to tread carefully. Especially if the company is going through some hard times or the position you’re vying for is currently filled. You don’t want to risk coming off as a threat or be put under a negative spotlight.

TIP: While you’re at it, leave your paycheck and what your coworkers make out of your workplace interactions.


Related: How to Eliminate Distractions and Get More Work Done


Health problems

Got a doctor’s visit or a surgery scheduled? You don’t really need to get into the details with everyone. Not even the type of doctor you’re going to see. “I don’t really need to hear that you have to go and see your gynaecologist,” shared Anand. Keep your previous or current medical issues away from your coworkers. The state of your health may come into question during a performance review of when you’re being considered for a bigger project at work.

TIP: Avoid talking about personal financial problems as well.

Party stories

How can you expect your co-workers or your superiors to take you seriously when you spend half of Monday (or any day) detailing how you were completely wasted the night before? Your night may have been wild but you’re jeopardising your personal brand by talking about it at work. You don’t want to get a bad reputation and even if your coworker is a friend/housemate – there should be ground rules to keep your personal and professional lives separate.

TIP: Be mindful of what you post on social media.

Office gossip

It’s never a good idea to take part in office gossip. Would you want to be associated with negativity? Regardless of how your team members or other coworkers feel, saying nasty things or spreading rumours about a person you work with will definitely come back to bite you. If you absolutely need to vent, do it at home (with your family or non-work friends).

Personal comments

You have 10k. (or more) followers on social media – but you should still keep your personal comments about a coworker (or your boss) to yourself. This is your job, not your dorm room in university. Maintaining a level of professionalism during any office interaction is essential for your growth and your brand. As Warren Buffett once said,”It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Have you been a part of any awkward conversations at work? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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