Whether it’s invited by your boss or egged on by your nosey cubicle neighbor, gossip will ultimately divide rather than connect you from your coworkers. Gossip breeds a false sense of oneness with the person you are engaging with—you both share a negative opinion about someone, you’re bonded for life. Right? Not so much. Especially not when competition will remain a common thread throughout your career and that nosey neighbor will inevitably need ammo at some point to get the promotion you’re both after. It’s a bad look and one that can be easily avoided by keeping those lips sealed.
2. Mistaking your work best friend with your real best friend.
At the end of the day, the people around you are coworkers first, friends second. Did something major go down in the office and it’s between you and your work bestie to take the fall? Unless you’ve found the one in a million coworker who will willingly put themselves on the line for you, they’ll use whatever secrets you’ve shared with them to get themselves out of trouble. The takeaway? Have fun at work and make some friends, but keep those scandalous secrets for your real besties, outside of the office.
3. Sharing too much personal information with your coworkers.
Having lunch with a group of coworkers? Talk about your weekend, your plans for the holidays, your hobbies, your pets, etc. This is not a space to bring up your sister’s DUI or the screaming match with your boyfriend that kept you up all night. There is a way to connect with your coworkers without unleashing the drama happening in your life outside of the office.
4. Dressing appropriately.
This one is tricky because “appropriate” is an ambiguous term these days. If you work for Microsoft or Google, jeans and a t-shirt is perfectly acceptable an appropriate, but that is not the case with all companies. Obviously, you’ll always wear business clothing to an interview, but after that you will want to mesh with the company standards. There are many variations, even within the company, as sometimes engineers can get away with wearing something more casual than the administrative personnel. The safest bet is to look to your direct supervisor and dress parallel to them—certainly never being more casual than them.
5. Loud voices and barreling laughter.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; you can have fun at work. There is a way to have fun, though, without being disruptive. Most offices have shared working spaces, which means those loud conversations, jokes, and uncontrolled laughter will be heard by everyone. This, like gossiping, is not a good look. If you want to be respected and considered a mature and productive employee, keep conversations with coworkers inside the office to a minimum, and quiet. There is nothing more obnoxious than a shared office space being mistaken for a school playground, and you being at the center.
6. Text messages, emails, photographs, data. It’s all traceable.
If you’re going to send something via any of these methods that could be misconstrued out of context, don’t. Jokes and playfulness should be restricted to in-person interactions. That work bestie I mentioned before? What happens when one or both of you are accused of gossiping about the boss, and one or both of you is asked to cough up the work phone as evidence in an investigation? It could be that you made a minor joke via text about something completely unrelated, but it could be used against you should the investigators find enough backing evidence to consider it. Play it safe with this.