11 topics you should never, ever talk about at work

The office is a lot like a school classroom. Both have a boss who watches over you, making sure you're doing your work, and both see you thrust into an environment with people you might not otherwise want to hang out with.

Dr Robyn Johns, senior lecturer in Human Resource Management at UTS, says despite the artificially of the office environment, people do tend to forge very strong friendships. It's at that point of familiarity when we are most likely to let our guard down and start shooting out mouth off.

"When the guard goes down we can get in all sorts of trouble," Johns says. "You may begin telling politically incorrect jokes with the person who you've befriended, not realising someone else has overheard."

"Similarly, talking about your career aspirations is fraught with danger. While you may think it's a good thing to show ambition, it could also lead an employer to question your loyalty."

So what are the absolute no-nos to bring up in the tea room?

Your politics

This is obvious. Never ever, ever talk about politics in the office. And that includes putting up a poster of Tony Abbott on your cubicle wall. Politics is a serious business and there are several nut-bag political groups out there. Keep your opinions inside the voting booth, thanks.

Your sex life

Yes, the hardwired urge to bonk may be the reason why men do stupid things like buy cars with long bonnets and pretend to enjoy movies starring Kristen Wiig, but talking about your shagadelic exploits to work colleagues is more than a tad icky: it's downright Trumpish.

Women will think you're like a creepy uncle, and blokes will hate you for getting more than them.

Your religion

Telling your fellow employees you found God behind the pile of paperclips in the stationery cupboard is never going to work out well for you. Because religions are always arguing about whose God is real and which one is the most omnipotent, proselytising anywhere at work could result in an all-out war.

One minute you're handing out copies of Watchtower Magazine at the water cooler, the next you're leading a crusade to the IT department and denouncing Brenda in accounts as a heretic.

Your mumbo jumbo

This could include your strongly held belief in the power of dream-catchers; your vehement opposition to childhood vaccination; or simply covering your desk in amethyst crystals to channel their positive energy.

Even asking for a soy chai latte at the office cafeteria is a bit suspect. And wearing tie-dyed-anything to Casual Friday is a case for instant dismissal. Keep all this guff for downtown Coburg or the Marrickville Markets.

Your sport

Although sport is often talked about in the office, it's best to avoid the subject. If you live in Victoria, talking about AFL is akin to talking about religion (see above) and liable to get you beat up in the stairwell.

In NSW, revealing your allegiance is a way for people to make snap judgements about your social status. If you start raving on about the NRL, you'll be dismissed as a boof-head who has a penchant for brick veneer. Talk about the 'Tahs and your fellow employees will wonder when you'll be popping the collar on your polo shirt.

Your body

We don't need to know about your lumpy red rash, or that you're worried you may have caught something from the hand dryer in the bathroom. Ditto, if you wear an Apple Watch 2, keep the Activity Stream to yourself, nobody cares how many calories you've burnt by 11am, or about the number of times you've stood up in the past three days.

We do care if you have a cold or flu, because we want you to go home.

Your dreams

Not in the metaphorical sense, of course, but your literal dreams. The main reason why nobody in the office wants to hear about your dreams is because hearing about other people's dreams is REALLY BORING. 

Your ex

Yes, we know he or she took the big screen TV and the Nespresso machine, but it's time to move on. It was nine years ago!

Your holiday

Nobody wants to hear Ben from HR rabbiting on about his trip to Nusa Dua and how Scoot gave him an upgrade from standing room only to economy. By the same token, hearing about your amazing cycling trip through picturesque Tuscan vineyards will only give us holiday-envy and yet another reason to hate you.

Your animals

There are two types of people: those who love dogs and those who love cats (actually there's three if you count those who love neither). Just as soon as people buy a dog, they have an operation which removes their sense of humour, as was made obvious in my recent piece on why buying a dog was a big mistake.

And as for cat people, they are like their pets; cold and aloof. People who own multiple cats are quite simply mad and possibly dangerous. Best to steer clear of discussing their pet's wanton destruction of Australian fauna.

Your kids

Nothing will make you a social pariah more than constantly talking about the fruit of your loins. We don't give a rat's that Hugo and Finn won a Principal's Award for their working papier mache model of the Bolton steam engine, or that Matilda has volunteered to serve celeriac and truffle oil soup to the underprivileged.

And no photos, please. Ever. 

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop