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It’s 2022 and the workplace is an ever-changing environment. From in-office conversations about the latest show everyone is binge-watching to small talk about new artwork on your home walls during video calls, now more than ever co-workers have more access to each other’s personal lives. So, how do you politely acknowledge something new in your co-worker’s life without making it about money? Keep reading for a few tips on being polite and avoiding uncomfortable situations.

Think before you speak.

We could easily end the blog post here and just leave it as a reminder to not blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, but we also know workplace money etiquette is a bit more complicated than that.

  • Leave your judgey pants behind. This first tip is all about reminding yourself that you and your co-workers are different people. You may visit your favorite coffee shop once a week and they may buy a new fishing lure each week. To you, that may seem a bit excessive, but maybe to them buying a $5+ coffee drink each week seems unnecessary. Remember, to each their own. Keep your thoughts to yourself because it’s their money to spend the way they see fit.
  • Don’t make assumptions about similar spending habits. Just like everyone is different, you may also have co-workers who have many of the same interests and hobbies as you. Maybe you are both true crime fans, sushi lovers and moped enthusiasts. It can be easy to think that since so many areas of your life are similar that your spending habits are the same, too. Keep in mind that you are two different people with different needs, so you won’t spend your money the same way and that’s OK. Just because someone does something differently doesn’t mean it’s wrong or that they think less of you and the way you spend your money.
  • Show interest but not 20-questions-level interest. Whether someone just got a new water bottle (that you know costs a pretty penny), new shoes or updated wall décor, you can acknowledge something new without going straight to costs. DO say if you like it, ask how they like a specific feature (like a flashing light to remind them to drink more water) and say how excited or happy you are for them. DON’T ask them how much it cost, where they got it or if they’re really going to use it.

We hope these tips help you navigate workplace conversations with more ease, as well as respect for one another. Remember, everyone is different and that’s OK. If you find yourself having a negative reaction to a conversation at work, ask yourself why that is. It could be a rude co-worker, or maybe a jealousy issue on your part. Take some time to reflect and identify what it is that is truly bothering you so you can mend the relationship.

Looking for more money etiquette tips? Check out this blog post on how to respond to repeated donation requests or this one on group gift etiquette.