Conversations at Work

Last week I read an article on the BBC website where the Chartered Management Institute head said that chat about football or cricket in the workplace should be curtailed. It was felt that conversations at work on these subjects led to women feeling left out.

Naturally this got a lot of reaction, including a number of female sports fans who thought it was a terrible idea. One female manager feared that if sports chatter was banned then it could also lead to talking about Love Island, EastEnders and Game of Thrones being banned too!

Personally speaking, over the years I have found sport to be a subject that can build bridges between people at work and develop friendships. It can be an interest that people from very differing backgrounds have in common. At one level you may feel you cannot relate to the people with whom you work. However, if you both like football, it provides an area where you can interact with each other.

It’s easy to write this article off as another example of political correctness going overboard. Although, for the Christian in the workplace, this does raise the important issue of how we must consider carefully our words at work. We should think about our speech and guard what we say to others. With that in mind, I am conscious that we need to ask God’s help in the following areas:

Not gossiping
There are plenty of verses in the Bible that warn against gossiping;

A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” (Proverbs 16:28)

A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” (Proverbs 11:13)

Gossiping is not an attractive trait. As Christians we should not be known as one of the office gossips. As gossiping frequently involves the criticism of others it should have no place in the life of a Christian.

Think before we speak
The trouble with opening your mouth and saying something is that you cannot unsay your words. The number of times I wish I could unsay something is sadly very large! The words come out and the damage is done. I expect most of us are familiar with the verse below:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19).

How much different our lives might be if we actually put that verse into practice?

Speaking wholesome words
It can be difficult for the Christian in the workplace to set up an example of wholesome talk if our work environment is one where crudity abounds. However, as Christians we are called to be an example in this area:

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Wouldn’t be good if every time we spoke people benefited from our words?

Closing Prayer
It’s easy to feel a failure when we consider those times when we have dishonoured God at work with our speech. However such is God’s amazing grace that He gives us new opportunities to serve Him each day. The following prayer is one that would be good to pray for ourselves each day before we set out for work:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

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