A relationship with a boss can be a strange thing. Some bosses like to act like they are “one of the guys,” while others are aloof and very formal in their dealings with the employees that report to them. Dealing with a boss is always a bit tricky, because even if they try to act like they are the same level as the rest of the employees, you might be wondering if they are doing it just so they can find things out that employees would not normally tell them. No matter how down-to-earth or cool your boss may be, there are certain things you never want to tell them. After all, your job is your livelihood and you should not risk it by telling your boss things he or she does not need to know. Here’s a good start. You never want to discuss the following subjects with your boss.
#1 Your night life
What you do outside of work really isn’t your employer’s business unless it has a negative effect on your job performance. You may spend each and every night at home watching Gilligan’s Island re-runs or you may go out and party like it’s the end of the world, but whatever you do when you leave work, keep it to yourself. If you are doing something outside of work to better your performance on the job, like studying or something, it’s OK to talk about that, but leave all the personal stuff at the door when you come to work.
You know what they say about subjects to avoid talking about, right? Politics and religion, and the workplace is no exception. There are cases where something job-related may go against your religious beliefs, and in that case you won’t really have much choice about discussing your religion. If you don’t have to deal with anything at work that conflicts with your faith, it’s best to just keep it to yourself. There are those that would discriminate against someone due to their religious beliefs, so it’s probably best to refrain from advertising your religion.
We may as well follow up a bit on the last point by putting politics on the hush-hush list also. People are often very passionate about their politics and they could turn against you when they find out that your views do not match their own. There are, of course, all kinds of laws in place designed to prevent discrimination due to all sorts of reasons, but it is often easy for a boss or coworkers to discriminate against you in ways you will not even know about, so save the political debates for a venue other than the workplace.
#4 Your spouse’s job
Your spouses job, and in particular, their income is something you definitely do not want to be talking about with the boss. For example, let’s say your spouse is a partner at a well-known law firm. Your boss, thinking that you are doing pretty well due to your spouse’s income, might pass you over for a promotion in favor of someone who they think needs it more than you do. You could also end up with a smaller raise for the same reason.
There are some employers who do not allow their employees to have a second job, and in that case it’s pretty much a no-brainer keeping that to yourself. Even in cases where it is OK for your to have another job, there’s no sense rocking the boat by telling your boss about it. It could make them scrutinize your work performance more closely than they normally would since they may be looking for evidence that your second job is having a negative impact on your performance. You never want to give a boss reasons to watch you more closely than they normally would.
#6 Sexual preference
In the U.S. and many other countries it is illegal to discriminate against someone due to their sexual preference, but discrimination can be very difficult to prove and unless you have an iron-clad case with plenty of evidence, your quest for justice could end up hurting you more than helping. There’s no reason for your employer to know about your sexual preference, so it’s best to just keep it to yourself unless it somehow has something to do with your work.
#7 Your home
Everyone has their own ideas about what constitutes as “normal” living arrangement. Whether you own your home, rent, live in a hotel, or with your parents, it really isn’t any of your employer’s business. Most people will judge others even if they never say anything about it, and that can work against you in the workplace.
#8 Emotional problems
As long as you can keep it together while you are at work, there’s no reason to share details of your mental or emotional health with your boss. Maybe you are going through a divorce, a custody battle, or some other traumatic ordeal. Perhaps you have just been feeling depressed about life lately. As long as you are getting the kind of help you need, there is no good reason to share that kind of personal information with your boss. Knowing that you are struggling with emotional issues could open you up to greater scrutiny on the job.
#9 Certain physical health issues
While there are surely some health problems you’ll want to talk about with your employer, particularly if you require special equipment or office furniture as a result, there is no good reason to share details about your health that do not have any impact on your life at work. It’s another thing that could cause your employer to look a little to hard at your performance, since they may expect that your problem will negatively impact it. The way people think of you in general could also change when they find out about any health problems you may have.