Monday, January 25, 2016

Career Tip: Topics to Avoid at Work (and on Social Media)

It’s almost unavoidable in the workplace and incredibly tempting to take part in when it happens:  the political, religious, or related social issue conversations.  We have all been there, and tried to avoid the conversation, but been sucked in anyway.  So, how do you avoid these topics? 

First, walk away from that inappropriate work conversation, or if it is occurring near your desk, tell people you appreciate their opinion but work probably is not the place to share their current discussion.   While it may be difficult to say this to your colleagues, remember, their conversation, and your involvement can cause trouble for you too!  Being respectful, but letting people know that the conversation is not suitable for the workplace is usually enough to put a stop to the issue.  Second, don’t be the one to bring up these subjects.  We all have opinions, but those opinions can be shared in private conversations offsite from work and away from social media.  You can, and must resist, as the impact on your career or others involved can be dramatic – again, share in private.

Third, is dealing with social media and avoiding the temptation there as well.  Your posts are never private and I don’t care what the privacy policy says, people who know how to access this info can and will do it, and some of them may be your company’s HR personnel (or your future company).  This warning also extends to your “friends” who just can’t seem to help themselves.  You may have to unfriend them or caution them about the problems they can cause with unfiltered and spontaneous posts and let them know you will delete the connection to them if the posts continue.

Lastly, I want to be sure readers understand that you can say you have a belief in a higher power, that you attended a religious service, or take your voting rights seriously at work or online, but keep the interaction very limited.  Remember, if in doubt, don’t say anything.  For social media, you can also leave that post in a Word document for 24 hours, and then review it and see if there is anything you might not want to see, or want someone who holds sway over your career to see at a later date.  Better to be safe in your postings and work dialogue, than sorry and demoted, looked over for promotion, not hired, or fired.  To your career and job search success.      

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