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Stop inappropriate language in the workplace

Unfortunately, the use of vulgar or inappropriate language is becoming more frequent in all aspects of society, including the workplace. There are some topics that should be avoided on the job. A person should avoid initiating these types of discussions but also must choose not to be a participant in them when started by others.

They include “water cooler” conversations, chatting with co-workers in the office or off-duty. Off-limit topics best to be avoided include the following.

Political views

There is no more polarizing subject. In addition to avoiding verbal conversations, you should also ensure your profile and postings online are scrubbed from partisan references.


This is probably the most sensitive and personal issue for a person. Opinions about other denominations or beliefs can cause separation from others and result in harm to teamwork on the job.

Search for another job

Don’t share your plans to search for another job with co-workers. Many people cannot keep a secret, so keep it to yourself.

Negative feelings about your co-workers, employer or customers

It will not serve you well to voice your dissatisfaction or participate in gossip. Don’t vent in person or online. Keep your opinions to yourself.

Your compensation

Your pay information should always be held in confidence and discussed only with your manager or Human Resources. 

It is not your concern how much others are being paid and they don’t need to know what your compensation is.

Drinking and drugs

Reliving any escapades you’ve had will not boost your status in the company or in opinions of others. Be cautious about photos and stories you share online. Be aware of your company’s substance-abuse policy.

Personal activities

No one wants to hear about the drama in your life. Sharing personal problems or difficulties will reflect poorly on you and could also magnify the problems you have.

Medical issues, yours or others’

There are HIPAA regulations that prohibit sharing health information. Sharing of your own medical issues can create negative impressions.

Goals and aspirations

Making public your desire for a higher position in the company can create disharmony and insecurity from co-workers. Discuss with your manager or HR only.

Telling off-color jokes

Dirty jokes and offensive language should be avoided in person, in writing, on the phone and online. There is no place for it in the workplace. This kind of behavior can lead to sexual harassment charges or being accused of harassment or discrimination.

Talking loudly on the phone, sharing emails, posting on social media are all ways your co-workers will become aware of your ideas and opinions, most of which should be kept confidential.

It is beneficial to adhere to what my Mother told me. That is, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Remember that your communication should be professional in the workplace. When you abide by these guidelines, others will see you in a professional light.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.