Ask no questions, I will tell you no lies.
In today’s day and age, it can be challenging to navigate the muddy waters between professionalism and having work friends. I have actually covered this topic before, but concerning whether or not to trust a co-worker. Today, I’d like to address an issue that has actually come up a lot in my own life recently.
Sometimes, it can be awkward when someone asks you a question at work that you really don’t think is appropriate to answer. You may have the best intentions in asking the question or be genuinely curious, but there are certain questions you should NOT ask someone at work. I have listed five of those questions below and why it’s probably smart for you to shy away from them:
1. “That’s a nice tattoo, what does it mean?”
I get this one a lot, and not just at work. I totally understand the interest in someone’s body art, but asking about it at work is opening a can of worms. For one thing, you may have caught a glimpse of said tattoo when the bearer meant for it to be covered, in which case you are embarrassing them. Another point to consider is that someone’s tattoo could have very special and personal meaning to him/her, and you are putting them into an awkward position by probing them about it. Hey, I have a Harry Potter tattoo on my ankle that is visible for many months of the year. When someone asks me about it at work, I tell them what it is. But what if it was the dates of my aunt’s death? Do you really want to stand there and listen to your co-worker spill tragic family details? Probably not, so don’t ask.
2. “How did your doctor’s appointment go?”
Really?! I get that maybe you are concerned with someone’s health, but this question is truly inappropriate. You do not know what someone’s health issues could possibly be, and they may not want to share the details of their recent visit to the gynecologist. Ew, don’t ask people that.
3. “How did you meet your spouse/significant other?”
This one is touchy as all hell. Sometimes this may be just a fun story, other times it can be pretty messed up. For example, a former colleague once asked another colleague this question, and the answer was that the girl had been dating this guy at the same time as her roommate. Without repeating the whole story, just know that is got awkward for all of us listening as well as my colleagues. Most of the time, it’s best to just accept that this person is in a relationship and don’t probe.
4. “What would you do in this situation?”
Read this one in the context of personal situations. If you ask a co-worker for advice that does not involve work, you are digging yourself a hole, my friend. Not only are you putting someone in a situation where they may have to divulge information they really don’t want to share, you’re making yourself look vulnerable in the process, which is never a good look on the job front. Get advice from your friends, not your colleagues.
5. “Is it considered stealing if….?”
For those of us who have worked in any type industry, whether it be retail, service, or corporate, you know this might one of the most awkward questions ever to ask a co-worker. Though it may not be the most personal of questions, it is something that you should never even begin to utter at the workplace. Involving your co-workers in your gray area office shenanigans is not only rude and tactless, but incredibly selfish. Plus, you might like what happens next if you ask that fateful question. The bottom line is this: If you have to ask about an action before you do it, you shouldn’t probably shouldn’t engage in it.
Of course, if you are actually friends with someone at work (meaning you see them outside of work and have things in common besides the location of your office), it’s cool to talk about these things. But do not put someone with whom you only have a strict working relationship into an awkward situation. If you do, then things may just get more awkward as you continue working together. As a rule, if you would feel weird sharing information about this same topic to someone, don’t ask. MIND YO’ BUSINESS!!
Till tomorrow friends!