As a friend and I happened to be discussing some things on a break at work we got into a few topics that are great for friends to discuss, but strayed away from those we were unable to discuss in more detail. The odd thing about it is, for the most part these wouldn’t come up while in the office as it is rare either of us are in the office environment anymore. We are both in the office for a particular time at this point and just happened to bring up another situation that had happened prior. We found ourselves somewhat walking on eggshells as there are so many intricate things that can no longer be daily conversation at work or catching up.
Many of you know most of my background comes from the corporate world. I hope it will speak to each of you and help bring some light as to why there is a distinct line on what can and can’t be discussed in the workplace. I do think the guidelines help more than some recognize no matter what field you are in.
I found myself teeter tottering on discussing this topic due to me still working under a company. I decided to see what the internet had to say on the topic. It has a lot to share on words that should not be used based on clear reasons why. Many of those words are ones that you could easily see being used in discrimination suits and be easily insulting.
So let’s jump right in… If you work for a company that is clear on the guidelines of items that should not be discussed in the workplace. Rest assured there is always a reason why. I know many of us have strong opinions on those subjects, such as religion, race, politics, outside businesses and hobbies that may are important to us. All these are great topics to discuss when getting to know people, but can be a formula for disaster when discussing them in the workplace.
You may be one of those people that can share their opinion and keep it moving, but many are not. The topics listed above are merely the larger ones that can get people off their wagon pretty quickly. I have seen what I would consider sophisticated people lose their cool behind those and just about forget where they are at. One incident comes to mind, right before the election in 2008 we had a few people that would like to throw a few little (what I like to call crumbs) out to see if anyone would bit. They would make comments in reference to certain races only following Obama due to race and without knowing what he stood for. The same person tended to have concerns of certain discussions amongst friends and why they weren’t included. I wish people could truly understand that something’s are just left best out of the office.
The topic of religion alone infuriates some people. You have to keep in mind that you may be religious, spiritual, believe in God, or not. However, the reason these things are not allowed in the workplace is because people are more than passionate about their views on religion or lack thereof. Not to say who is right or wrong. I am a Christian, but I can sit and listen to why someone says they are an atheist. I am not speaking of having that conversation at work. Many though are unable to respect one another’s opinions and those heated conversations that come from topics that can get someone’s blood boiling will easily shift the focus from work/productivity to in-depth conversations that do not always end so lightly.
Take a moment and reflect on the larger events that are memorable to you in the world or since you have been alive. So many of us have lived through Civil Right movements, segregation, 9/11, wars overseas, bombings, and other massive news events that have left us all feeling some type of way. As many of these events lead us into precise conversations with parties we know or discuss things with on a daily. They just simply leave people with some view on some things or lack of understanding on other parts. The feelings can do largely in part due to their background, upbringing, past experiences that left them traumatized, and or just ignorance. I am not saying ignorance is an excuse, but rather more of a shade over some people’s eyes and brains due to being naïve or not researching it on their own. I can’t imagine a business in place that doesn’t have a way to report these things being discussed. Keep in mind if you decide to tread into these waters knowing that it is against company policy, it can be reported by people you aren’t even aware are listening and could be offended. I think most of being grown should be able to just step in and say; hey I am not comfortable with your conversation. We all know that everyone would not handle that interruption the same way. Some would respect the person for saying something to them versus turning it in and some would be a little disrespectful back. You just never know what will offend someone these days. If you find this hard to swallow, just thing of something you would overhear that would offend you. It may not be the things above, it could be overhearing guys talk about a wild weekend with nice looking ladies with a little more detail to their bodies than you would prefer. It could be someone sharing their weekend of getting into a drunken stupor and not remembering a thing. I really couldn’t imagine why someone would share these stories in a workplace, but you would be shocked at the things you overhear and wonder if they think about what they are sharing at their place of business. It can so many simple and not be meant to be harmful at all, but sometimes takes people down a memory lane that keeps them from focusing. It only takes one person to misunderstand something said to take the wrong way and it went from a harmless conversation to a concern.
Some people just need to feel like they have a voice. Unfortunately, work is not the place to discuss religion, race, politics, etc. You can let your voice be heard in many other ways. Use your social media as your platform and when you meet new people be open to share those ideas. Let your filter be limited in a place that is a little more conformed for those to be shared. In today’s world with violence and lack of respect at an all-time high… Businesses have to protect their number one priority with production conducting a safe environment. If they didn’t make this a priority there would be many of us no longer safe in the place that becomes our second home and supports our families. Just a little something to think about.
I totally agree with you K Joi the workplace is not the place to discuss or even comment on the topics you mentioned. Religion is a touchy one for me and race. If you want to make me toe the line of “losing my cool” at work……oh that will do it.
I also agree about the level of respect for another human being is dimenishing it seems. Makes you want to go back about 30-40 years and try to prevent the things that could be the cause: computers, cell phones, FB, etc. But like men…..we can’t live with it and we can’t live without it!!! Great blog K Joi.
I am a talker, and love a comfortable workplace environment, however with the changing of times, u have to be so very sensitive to others and their “feelings” as not to create a hostile work place! Because if the worng person says the wrong thing, it can and will, and i am a witness can get ugly. That being understood, all convos to a minimum. sorry it has to be this way but a joke or comment taken the wrong way changes relationships. so whoop there it is, keep your unsolicited thoughts to youyrself. example.with all this racial tention going on, could you imagine someone even bringing it up! better not.