Did you hear about it? Well, personally, I think…. How old is she? These questions can lead to water cooler talk that is just plain cold! Today’s lesson is all on what you should and should not be talking about while at work.
Water cooler talk is nothing new. We are all social creatures. But does that mean we should speak our minds without any boundaries? Jonathan and Mark return to break down three main topics that need careful consideration and share insights into how the right workplace conversations can be upbuilding and a source of positivity.
- Religion and Politics
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Conversations that build up, not tear down
Key Questions/Topics Covered
Religion & Politics
People, in general, have some very personal and deep feelings when it comes to religion and politics. Of course, there may be some balance to talking about either of those. But when it crosses the line into strong opinions, it can go overboard quickly, and feelings can get hurt.
Understand that not everyone is going to agree with your personal choices and it’s not okay to force your views on them. So if it is not a passing neutral comment, avoid these topics altogether!
Unfortunately, many companies struggle where a negative culture is natural. Most people who engage in toxic gossip about other employees are generally very insecure. You have to ask yourself if that is how you want to be known. Check and see if your water cooler talk is building up your fellow workmates or tearing them down.
In addition, what do you do when you hear gossip? Do you sit there and silently nod or do you quickly shut it down and move the conversation to something more productive? Taking a stand and promptly extinguishing negative talk will only help employee morale and create a better working environment.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Jokes and/or conversations that discuss sexual orientation, race, and culture should not be tolerated. Even talking about someone’s age can create problems. For example, let’s say you have a new property manager that is younger than you are. Having water cooler conversations about their potential lack of experience can really erode your team’s morale.
It is your responsibility to educate yourself on what is and isn’t inclusive. Understanding that we all come from different backgrounds and make different life choices is the first step. Mark’s advice is to stop looking at the cover of the book and look inside it. Take this chance to get to know your workmates and learn from their experiences.
Conversations That Build Up
We have discussed three key areas that require caution or complete avoidance. So what should we be talking about? How can we create a positive environment?
Start by asking questions. Show a personal interest in your fellow employees without prying. Use discernment when asking questions in order to make them feel like they can divulge as little or as much as they want to. For example: “How was your weekend?” is a bit safer than “What did you do this weekend?”.
Another way to build a culture of positivity is to talk about yourself. Not the “I am the best thing that ever happened to the property management industry” but the “I understand where you are coming from, I had a similar experience.” By sharing helpful personal experiences, you can help humanize yourself and create a comforting open environment.
What about you? Is there something in particular that you like to talk about at work? Is there something that gets on your nerves when it’s brought up in conversation? Let us know in the comments.
What one actionable tip could you share that has served you well as an educator?
Focus on the things that will build up your team!
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