Professional Development

Never share this information at work

Written by Peter Jones

Networking is what gets you in the door, but building real relationships with coworkers is what keeps you there and earns you respect. And you can’t really connect to people—even colleagues—if you don’t open up and share every once in a while. But sometimes the bonding goes too far. When sharing becomes oversharing, you can erode any credibility you’ve built up in a workplace.

Here are a few things smart and successful people make a rule of never bringing up in the workplace.

How much you hate your coworkers

No matter how terrible Bob in Sales is at his job, it’s not something you can talk about with your coworkers—even your friends. Unless you’re talking to your best non-work friends or your partner, there’s no cause to broadcast someone’s ineptitude. Be kind. Take the high road. And for that matter, don’t smack talk about your boss or how much you hate your job either.


By far the easiest way to alienate someone is to casually discuss politics. Things are quite simply too fraught these days. A haphazard comment here or there could really lose you points. In general, it’s best not to mix office and politics in general—tense times or not. You never know where someone (or the cubemate quietly listening) stands. If others are talking politics, listen and smile and step outside. 

How much you make

Even if you’re sharing your salary to commiserate with other low-level earners, you never know what those people might be making. It could be even less than you. Don’t run the risk of humblebragging. And definitely don’t outright brag. First of all, nobody cares. Second, they’ll just assume you’re a materialistic jerk.

Your sex life… or anybody else’s

Really, there’s no reason to divulge any details about what goes on in your bedroom. Or worse—to speculate about what might or might not go on in someone else’s. It’s just gossip, which is never a good idea. Plus, it’s likely against company policy. You just never know when you might make someone feel uncomfortable, so respect work and personal boundaries.

Your ongoing job hunt

If you’re job hunting because you’ve outgrown your position or you just plain hate your job, that’s fine. Keep it on the DL. Nobody wants to be friends with the kid who doesn’t even want to be on the playground with the other kids.

Your online presence

Unless you become actual friends with a coworker, it’s best to keep your social media networks separate. LinkedIn is great for work friends, but keep your Facebook and Twitter and Instagram to people who won’t be annoyed by your vacation photos of margaritas and tequila shots.

Offensive jokes

Again, anything off-color is probably going to get you in trouble with your human resources department. If you have a racist, misogynist, or intolerant joke in your pocket, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself. You will offend someone and people will think less of you. Is it really worth the forced laughter?

Your dreams of a promotion

It’s fine to covet rungs above yours on the ladder. It’s not fine to tell people that you’re out to unseat your coworker or your boss. The news will definitely get back to that person, ruining a relationship for good. And whether or not you get your way, you won’t have the respect of everyone around you.

Personal drama

You might be having problems at home, or in your relationship, or with your health. Save intensely personal tales for your besties and your therapist. At the very least, save them for lunch hour with one or two close work friends, not your water cooler buddy. Work is not the place to be blabbing about your issues and emotions—it’s a professional setting, no matter how casual the office and how kind the people.

About the author

Peter Jones