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5 breakroom discussions to avoid like the plague

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Given how much time we spend at work, it’s almost inevitable that we end up divulging secrets here and there about ourselves and others to our coworkers. Some info can be innocent, while some can border on risqué. We’ve all had those days where we couldn’t wait for a quick break to share the unit’s latest gossip or complain with a coworker about management’s latest flub. But whether or not you realize it, these seemingly harmless conversations can come at a hefty price. Here are five breakroom discussions to avoid like the plague! Don a garland of garlic and proceed with caution through this list.

1. “I’ve had enough!”
Never discuss your work problems at work—it may come back to bite you. If you’re having workplace troubles and it’s something your boss or an administrator can help you with, go directly to him or her. If you have a problem that can’t be solved by your boss and you need to get it off your chest, pull a trusted coworker into an empty room that’s far away from others, close the door and speak in hushed tones. Don’t go into the breakroom and vent unless everyone else is having the same problem. Above all, remember to be careful! What you say to a coworker easily can be twisted into something terrible by the time it reaches your boss.

2. “Did you hear about…?”
Gossip! We all love to hear it, but we don’t want it to be about us. Never start rumors that are unfounded or hurtful. As juicy as it may be, it can be harmful to your career. Keep your words positive and try not to repeat rumors or gossip. We’re all working toward the same goal: getting patients well and ready for discharge. The focus should be on their care, not our coworkers’ personal lives.

3. “I know whose side I’m on!”
We all have opinions about how things should be run, so discussions about politics often can lead to anger and resentment. And if you think politics is only about the government, remember that our employers also have political characteristics; there are leaders, lobbyists, policy makers and supporters in every facility. Be very careful how you speak about the leaders of your facility. If you need to vent, become informed and go to the policy makers themselves with possible solutions, or find a safe person to discuss the matter with. Never vent to a coworker.

4. “Maybe we should pray…my way.”
My mother always said, “Never talk about religion in public.” I grew up in a religious household, so I never understood her reasoning until I went off to work. Everyone has their own beliefs. Never try to force someone to go to your church or bully them into becoming a believer. If you’re approached by someone with questions, by all means give them the answers, but never force the issue. As Thomas Jefferson penned in an 1802 letter, there should be a “wall of separation between church and state.”

5. “You won’t believe what I did last night” and other R-rated conversations.
Personal stories of a certain nature should be kept to a minimum at work. It’s perfectly fine to discuss vacations, family and even heartaches, but when conversations turn from G-rated to X-rated, walk away. You know the stories: “I was so drunk” or “You won’t believe what I did in bed!” Many nurses find the crazy antics of their coworkers fascinating, but management doesn’t need to know how drunk you were or how crazy you got last night—they could decide that you may not be the type of person they want working for their company. Whether we like it or not, we represent our facilities and profession everywhere we go, so keep your work conversations G-rated and your personal life personal.

If you ever get the chance to visit your breakroom, keep your conversations friendly. Remember, don’t share anything at work unless it’s something you don’t mind everyone knowing—you never know who’s listening behind the breakroom door!

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Candace Finch, BSN, RN

Candace Finch, BSN, RN is an orthopedic and bariatric nurse. Candace began her nursing career after the age of 40 and recently completed her BSN from Empire State College Distance Learning. She is a firm believer that it is never too late to reinvent yourself. As a mother of two children with Type 1 Diabetes, she has learned that whatever God gives you can be used to benefits others. She enjoys quiet time with her husband and family, reading non-fiction books, listening to contemporary Christian music and traveling with her daughter to Disney World.
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