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What topics would you consider out-of-bounds at your workplace? According to a survey from, a lot of people would be happy to ban certain topics from office discussions.

Talk of salaries is one of the things that makes Brits in particular uncomfortable. Many offices will actually forbid their employees from talking about their salary with each other.

Of the topics that make British workers most uncomfortable, religion made the top with 42% saying that they would rather not talk about this. This was followed by talk about salaries and sex with 41% saying this and then politics at 35%.

Politics is a well know divisive topic. In fact, one in eight people surveyed said that they had fallen out with a fellow worker after a political debate.

Other topics that people feel uncomfortable with discussing are sexuality, which 23% said. 20% said race and 20% said mental or physical illness. 47% of people said that if they could, they would ban these kinds of topics from office talk.

Most people wouldn’t go so far as to invoke outright censorships but felt that some topics were off limits and should be unofficially banned. However, 10% said they work in a more open office where no discussions were off the cards.


Can you ban topics from the workplace?

If you want to actually ban topics of conversation, it’s not as simple as that. Head of strategy at Office Genie, Peter Ames said: “When it comes to conversations in the workplace, it’s often a case of realising what you maybe shouldn’t discuss rather than what you cannot discuss. Under The Human Rights Act, we’re all entitled to freedom of expression and this naturally encompasses a broad range of topics. It’s important to respect people’s boundaries however and consider your professional image. Of course, hate speech and that of a discriminatory kind is never acceptable.

“It’s very rare that an employer will have an outright ban on a topic, but depending on the type of work, there may be security clearance issues or nondisclosure clauses. So it’s always worth checking your contract for such restrictions.”


Is it worth being more open?

Ames highlighted that some topics might be important to discuss. “It’s also important to be clear that some conversations, despite being potentially awkward, should definitely be up for discussion. Talking about salaries, health and other potentially ‘awkward’ issues with an employer can help progression, well-being, and equality.”

Talking about things like health problems, particularly mental health which isn’t discussed much, could end up being a great help for employees.


Are there any topics you would like to see banned or just feel uncomfortable discussing? Or do you think there should be no limits? Let us know what you think.


About The Author

Kara Copple

An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.

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