I love board games. They’re a fun way to spend the evening (though my family will say I have the worst luck when it comes to actually winning). One game I haven’t played in forever is Taboo. You know, the game where one player provides hints to the guesser as to what the word is, without saying the word itself or five other “off limit” words. If any of the off limits are mentioned, you get buzzed.

Have you ever wished you had a buzzer when walking around the office at work?

Many of our blog readers are busy online students who also work full-time jobs. It's good to remember that presenting yourself in a professional manner in the office is a contributing factor to climbing the company ladder.

Unless you want to get buzzed along the way, avoid discussion on the following three topics in the workplace:

Buzzer-worthy Topic No. 1: Irrelevant health topics

It sounds simple enough: An employee compliments someone else on his/her outfit. An out-of-place response that comes out of nowhere might sound like this:

Taboo response: “I’ve been on this incredible new diet where I sleep with a silver spoon under my pillow. It sounds crazy but it works. I’ve lost 45 pounds this month alone.”


Try not to stray too far off topic. It’s one thing to discuss your latest diet endeavors with close friends or family, but these sorts of topics are best left out of the office, especially in front of clients or your superiors. It may leave your audience feeling awkward and wondering what your diet has to do with the simple compliment they just gave.

Proper response: “Thank you.” Perhaps a brief comment on how long you've had the outfit or how you came to own it would provide elaboration, if you felt it was necessary.

Buzzer-worthy Topic No. 2: Politics

Regardless of the time of year, this is a dangerous topic to discuss in the office.

Taboo response: any sort of inflammatory statement about the other political party. For instance, “I can’t believe that Senator Oz actually supported that bill. I thought he was smarter than that.”


Offices have ears all over the place. You never know who might be in earshot and become offended. Not everyone will speak up and enter a debate (friendly or not), but feelings still might be hurt over differing opinions.

It’s just like your mom used to tell you: “Two things you never bring up in public: politics and religion.”

Proper response: “I read something about that.” And change the topic.

Buzzer-worthy Topic No. 3: Family issues

Every family has drama, but the office is not the proper place to get into the specifics surrounding your situation.

Taboo response: “My wife keeps nagging me about our bills. It’s like she’s never happy.”


This one is a double no-no: complaining about your family and about money. You never know what fellow co-workers are going through, so it’s better to stay quiet about these circumstances in the office.

Proper response: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” And again, change the topic.

Unfortunately, not everyone can walk around with buzzers to let others know when they’ve crossed the line (as much as I wish we could). If you find yourself in one of these conversations, or accidentally slip up yourself, look for a way to back out gracefully without an altercation. Doing so will preserve your professional reputation and keep you on track to climbing the company ladder.

You can go to school AND keep your job by pursuing a business degree online. For more information about enrolling in leadership and management classes, click on the image below:
Learn more about Grantham's University School of Business