It’s not uncommon for today’s professionals to spend more time with their coworkers than members of their own families. That being the case, it’s in your best interest to get along as well as you can with the people you see all the time at the office. The last thing you’d want is to be forced to spend a significant chunk of time each week with people you dislike.
According to our Engagement Report, peers have the power to retain or push employees out the door.
Developing strong relationships with your coworkers — and hopefully getting them to like you — starts with opening yourself up and sharing certain aspects of your life. We’ve all worked with people who have sat in the corner and kept to themselves, which isn’t exactly the best way to become a team player.
But there’s a fine line between the things you should share with your coworkers to build camaraderie and the things you should keep to yourself. The last thing you want to do is say something you end up regretting — something that either shatters your relationships with your coworkers or even costs you your job.
So What Exactly Should You Share?
Funny, G- or PG-rated stories from your past are perfectly fine. As is (workplace-appropriate) information about your family and friends. Is everyone on your team obsessed with House of Cards? You can talk about the show once everyone’s all caught up (no spoilers!).
Running out of things to talk about? You can always fall back on music, movies, and sports. Just use your common sense and be reasonable and you should be just fine.
So What Exactly Shouldn’t You Share?
On the flip side, there are a number of things that are strictly taboo. For example, if you hate your boss or dislike one of your coworkers, you’re much better off keeping that information to yourself or sharing it with a friend outside of work. You never know when someone you’re confiding in will jump at the opportunity to convey your sentiments to the wrong people. Bash your boss to one of their supporters, and you may find yourself looking for a new job before you know it.
You also should avoid talking about your salary and other compensation. Let’s say you’re a few years older than your coworker who essentially does the same job as you. While your coworker just has an undergraduate degree, you have a master’s. As a result, you make about $15,000 more annually than the person you sit next to every day. Should they find out, chances are they’ll become demotivated. Who knows? They may even hold it against you, thinking you’re bragging about your value.
Even though it’s a presidential election year, you’ll also want to avoid talking about politics. Sure, you may have a buddy or two who are politicos just like you. If you need to talk about the latest scandals and developments, no one’s stopping you. Just don’t do it in the office within earshot of your other coworkers. You never know when someone could be offended by your political views.
In order to form strong bonds with your coworkers — and therefore become a more productive team — you need to open up. But be careful not to open up too much. Not every idea that pops into your head is worth sharing. Proceed with common sense and caution, and you’ll be okay.