10 Personal Issues No One at Work Needs to Hear


Most Americans spend way too much time at work. In fact, according to a 2015 study by Gallup, the average work week for a full-time employee in the U.S. is 47 hours. Amid all that team-building togetherness, it's easy to blur the line between our professional and personal lives — and jeopardize our careers in the process. Protect your future by avoiding topics that can knock you down a rung or two on the corporate ladder. Here are 10 personal issues no one needs to hear about at work.

1. Legal Troubles

However unfair or inaccurate it may be, your ongoing legal issues imply two things to employers: You have poor judgment, and a litigious personality. Whether you're on the right side of the law or the wrong side, it's good policy to keep legal battles private.

2. Relationship Disasters

Messy divorce? Cheating boyfriend? Breakup that you just can't seem to get over? They may be part of life, but not part of appropriate workplace conversation. Rehashing your relationship disasters communicates that you have difficult time separating your personal and professional worlds — and that's a career-limiting trait.

3. Previous Employment Drama

No surprises here. Skip the stories about the boss who hated you, the coworker who stole your promotion, the office party that got out of hand, or the six-week strike you initiated. Employers tend to frown upon staff members with dramatic work histories, and they're rightfully concerned that certain types of employment issues might be contagious.

4. Sex Life

Tempted to break up a boring afternoon at the office with a tale of romantic misadventure? Abstain. Save the intimate details of your life for close friends, a night out with the guys or girls, or the journal in your nightstand. Beyond the TMI factor, you never know who's listening to your story or sharing it at the water cooler. Those amorous tales could be disastrous for your career.

5. Family Crises

Never-ending family issues suggest that you have a difficult time managing your personal life and setting clear boundaries — two qualities directly related to professionalism and productivity. Granted, nearly everyone deals with a sick kid or childcare challenges from time to time. Just make sure controlling the chaos at home doesn't become part of your daily work schedule.

6. Money Matters

Sure, we've all had a lean month here and there, but broadcasting persistent money problems at work won't get you very far. Besides making employers question your discipline and ability to manage budgets, chronic money issues hint that you may soon be looking for a higher-paying job.

7. Political Positions

Politics is a divisive topic, especially during a contentious election cycle. Though everyone has strong opinions, it's smart strategy to stay neutral from 9-to-5. We're all human; sharing partisan views can directly or indirectly offend someone and limit your prospects for advancement. (See also: 4 Financial Reasons to Keep Your Political Views Private)

8. Religious Views

Like politics, religion is a hot-button topic. It's extremely easy for a casual comment to negatively affect our professional opportunities. Assume nothing about the religious beliefs of those around you, exercise a high level of political correctness, and keep your personal beliefs out of the workplace. (See also: 5 Things Never to Bring Up in a Job Interview)

9. Health Problems

Ideally, every workplace would be filled with compassionate team members genuinely concerned about each other's well-being. Sadly, that's not the case. Discussing ongoing medical issues at work may garner some sympathy and even a more flexible schedule. Still, it comes with its own set of risks. Managers tend to offer new projects and promotions to folks who they believe can handle the extra responsibility, workload, and associated stress.

10. Obsessions

Revealing a bit about ourselves and our personal interests can help build stronger work relationships. Still, there's a fine line between mentioning a hobby and endlessly talking about a time-consuming obsession. Being too focused on personal pursuits may lead employers to think that your career is a third or fourth priority.

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Guest's picture

Good read! Years ago I was an office manager and have experienced every single thing mentioned above from employees. All I wanted was people to come to work and do their jobs but so many think being employed means inflicting their need for daily therapy sessions on their coworkers. It was a nightmare! Very few people understand how to keep their private lives private. All they want is attention for the terrible lives they created with terrible behaviors. It was both sad and infuriating not to mention completely affected their work performance.