Water Cooler Conversations – What Not to Say

by Toni Emerson, Employment Specialist, Seattle Goodwill
March 6, 2013

What's a water cooler conversation? It's a casual conversation you might have anywhere at work. You might be on a break, at lunch with a co–worker or meeting a co–worker after work. Even though these conversations are casual and friendly, it is important to be careful with the things you choose to say. What you talk about affects what your co–workers, especially your boss and team members, think about you.

Let's talk about what conversations you should steer clear of:

Working together in a close environment encourages people to talk about the workplace and fellow employees. Stop yourself from discussing things that you haven't checked out in advance. Talking behind someone's back is a dangerous habit to develop. Never repeat anything negative about your co–workers, supervisor or the workplace.

Complaining about your work reflects negatively on you and others. Plus, it does not solve the problem. Distancing yourself from negativity will help you feel happier and will encourage a positive relationship with your co–workers. If you notice something that you would like to change at work, don't complain. Instead, come up with a solution and present it to your supervisor.

Politics and Religion
Everyone's entitled to their own opinion and way of life. The best rule of thumb is to keep your beliefs to yourself. Expressing strong beliefs might turn people off and cause your co–workers to avoid you. It is also important to be flexible and open to all of your co–workers, and to respect their beliefs.

Having a job means that you spend 20–40 hours a week at your workplace with other people. Personal conversations will happen. Aim for positive talks that encourage teamwork and make people want to work with you.

Toni Emerson, Employment Specialist


Toni Emerson is an Employment Specialist as Seattle Goodwill.

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