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Office Etiquette: 5 Topics Not Meant for Water Cooler Conversations

Office Etiquette: 5 Topics Not Meant for Water Cooler Conversations

Water Cooler Conversations (informal) : Used to refer to the type of informal conversation/chat among office workers that takes place around a water cooler/coffee dispenser or like.

We agree that at times, the informal water cooler conversations are what help us trudge through those boring days at work, which otherwise seem never-ending. However, in the interest of proper office etiquette, it is important to realize that there are certain things best not commented upon or spoken about at the water cooler. Here are 5 things to avoid for a water cooler conversation, and it is only professional to do so!

1. Gossip – It is true that gossip can prove to be chicken soup for the soul at times. However, there is a time and a place for it. And the water cooler isn’t exactly one of those places. It is extremely unprofessional to gossip about or with the people you work. If she gets the alimony or not is actually nobody’s business but hers!

2. Complaints – While you may be thinking the person you are opening up to is a dear and trusted colleague, don’t be surprised if you are proven wrong. It is always a bad idea to complain or bad mouth people who you may be having problems with at work. If you have a problem with someone who has been really affecting you, the best idea is to find a way to talk to the person directly about it.

 3. Love Life Talk – Why would you even bother? Trust us on this, the other person probably doesn’t even care that you are going through a break up. Again, extremely unprofessional, and also, you will be known as the sissy thereafter. Whether a break up or the beautiful surprise date last night, what’s personal should always be kept personal and separate from what’s professional.

 4. Religion – While this may be fodder for a lot of interesting and intellectually stimulating conversations, you will need to be extremely diplomatic while talking about religion and religious issues, lest you go the way of fundamentalism or touch an especially sensitive nerve. There are certain topics where it is virtually impossible to prove a right or wrong because of the several perspectives that exist, and religion is surely on of them.

 5. Boss Bitching – We dedicated a whole separate category for it because it doesn’t belong wholly to gossip, neither to complaints. Once again, a tempting but dodgy subject. You never know who the boss’s minion is, and should be careful especially if you are a fresher. Some people do it just for fun, without any particular cause, which again is definitely unprofessional. But let us cut you some slack on this one, we do understand that at times, you really, really need to vent and the venting cannot wait! Just be careful who you vent to and where!

Your safest bet is to keep your conversations informal but not too informal. How you manage these things define how work place dynamics play out for you. If you thought the water cooler is a place where you can literally say anything, and it won’t affect you, well, you stand corrected. Avoiding the above will help you steer clear of unnecessary controversies. It is also worthy to remember that discussing anything which involves another person, especially if that person is another colleague is a very bad idea (in short, what we said about avoiding gossip). Now that we’ve spoken about what NOT to speak at the water cooler, we would love to hear from you about some of the best water cooler conversations you have had! Feel free to write to us, or to comment here!