Starting a new job? People always spout clichés about how you have put your best foot forward and bring your experience to the table, but no one told us about the things we have to leave at home. Drawing a line between one’s professional life and personal life sounds easy enough, but that divide starts to blur when you spend upward of 60 hours a week surrounded by the same people. Let down your guard, and your colleagues’ opinion of you might change forever.
Everyone’s got secrets. But here are the ones you should bury in an especially deep grave once you enter a new workplace.
1. How much you LOVE getting drunk
Going to happy hour with your workmates is one thing. But knocking back five shots of tequila, vomiting on the floor, and spamming your Instagram with photos chronicling the evening invites gossip, blackmail, or even grounds for termination, if your boss hates you that much. Miss a deadline, and your gossipy teammates will cite your hard-partying ways as evidence of your immaturity. If you can’t handle yourself any better than an 18-year-old who’s going clubbing for the first time, then you’re clearly not responsible enough to handle a team. So party and drink all you want, if you really must, but at least have the sense to keep it under wraps.
2. Previous hookups with colleagues at your old workplace
Now that you’re with a new organisation, you’re finally free to boast about how awesome it was hooking up with your previous company’s hot boss and interns after work, right? WRONG. Exercise some discretion; while you might get some high-fives for being a player, acting overtly cocky about your conquests will give people the impression that you’re someone who takes advantage of other people. And once you get promoted, they may gossip that you used unscrupulous means to get ahead.
3. Your political affiliation and beliefs
The general guidelines of etiquette dictate that there are three topics we should always avoid: politics, religion, and money (we’ll get to that). Most people have enough sense to avoid the last two. But when election fever’s running high, it’s easy to forsake your decorum and go H.A.M. on your colleagues who support the opposite ideals. No matter how patriotic you feel about fanatically supporting so-and-so politician or policy, you’re going to uselessly isolate half the office by making them feel stupid for their beliefs.
4. The state of your bank account
Back to money. Are you broke? Keep it quiet. Are you secretly wealthy? Then keep it REALLY quiet. Complain to people about your financial woes, and they might just suspect that you’re hinting at them to give you a loan. If you’d rather save money by bringing lunch from home than going out with your colleagues, then simply say that you like eating home-cooked food. Don’t make a big deal about having to save, as this may make them feel guilty or uncomfortable. And obviously, if you’re rolling in dough, the last thing you want to do is show up to the office dressed head-to-toe in brand names. Not only does this look tacky and nouveau riche, but those of us who are secretly well-off but in junior positions might give others the impression that we’re living beyond our means.
5. Your past and present salary
Most people have the common sense to not discuss their salary in the workplace. But let’s face it, those of us more susceptible to peer pressure might just crack beneath our colleagues’ relentless wheedling (“Oh c’mon! I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours”) . Or what happens if you have an opportunity to join another company, but turn it down when your current employer gives you a sizable counter-offer? We can guarantee that at least one nosy colleague will bug you to spill the beans. When that happens, you can either choose to ignore her or give her a half-joking reply, like, “Let’s just say that I can finally afford to buy Starbucks instead of the canteen kopi-o.”
6. Your medical afflictions
Some countries and companies enforce rules that prevent employers from terminating staff suffering from medical conditions. Others aren’t so forgiving and will think more for the business than for the people. Think about how your boss would feel if you revealed that you have a mild, yet ongoing auto-immune disease that may require you to take several days of medical leave at a time. You’ll start look like a high-risk employee. And when it comes to other afflictions, such as an aching back, mild operations, or a stomach ache, take it like a champ and don’t whine – not only will you sound like a baby, but people will get bored and annoyed by your constant complaints.
7. Your career aspirations
Oh, so you plan on quitting this job in six months to join a bigger company? You’re interviewing for a position in another department during your lunch break? Your greatest dream is to inherit your boss’s office? Show off your ambition all you want, but try not to reveal anything specific. You never know when a Machiavellian colleague might just swoop in and steal the position that you were up for.
8. You and your hubby’s baby-making plans
Too much information! Firstly, nobody wants to hear about your sex life or your ovulation cycle. Secondly, revealing that you’re trying for a baby might make you look like a high-risk, potentially expensive employee. If you’re on shaky ground at the job, the boss might just make up a random excuse to let you go. If you’re trying for a baby, wait at least until it’s conceived (and perhaps three months along) before breaking the news, as virtually no boss would want to become notorious for firing a pregnant woman.
9. Your personal connections to the family
The last thing you want is for people to think that the only reason you got a job is that your dad is the company bigwig. Even if it’s true, keeping that information on the down-low will help you earn people’s respect on your own terms while cultivating more authentic connections. While you don’t want people to think that you’re incapable of getting hired on your own, you also don’t want other people in the company brown-nosing you just so they can use your connections.
10. Your expensive fangirling activities
Do you fly overseas just to attend K-pop concerts? Do you spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars to shake an idol’s hand at fan meetings? Do you go to the airport at 5 in the morning just to catch a glimpse of a celebrity as he gets off the plane? Then you might just want to bury that information 10 feet into the ground. Everyone has their hobbies, but we doubt that a senior manager will approve your vacation leave if you say it’s to watch your favourite boy band overseas. You might say things like, “It’s my money! Who cares how I spend it!”, but working throughout the night only to spend a bomb on idols will not impress your colleagues as professional or mature.
10 secrets to bury once you start a new job
Starting a new job? People always spout clichés about how you have put your best foot forward and bring your experience to the table, but no one told us about the things we have to leave at home.