Here's what your colleagues are actually saying about you at work.


How many times have you been asked if you “…have any fun plans this weekend?” at 4pm on a Friday afternoon.

It’s nice enough small talk that keeps things civil around the office.

What your colleague probably means, however, is “You’re relatively boring, and I can’t think of anything else to ask you.”

Listen: Former Lord Mayor of Brisbane Sallyanne Atkinson thinks work/life balance is overrated. (Post continues after audio).

Small talk is a critical foundation of any successful workplace: whether you find yourself waiting in line for the kitchen sink, stuck in the painfully slow work elevator with a colleague, or rinsing your hands next to your boss in the bathroom, small talk melts the building tension in any situation.

The thing about small talk is… a lot of it goes deeper than what’s being said on the surface. There are hidden meanings aplenty: some passive aggressive; some dismissive; others so flirty your colleague might as well be giving you a lap dance right at your desk.

Image via The Office. Credit NBC.

We feel a cheat sheet is in order.

So we've done a comparison: all the standard office chat, side-by-side with what it really means...

Translation: You will be judged on all your bad ideas.

Remember when your boss asked you, ever so calmly, to "get this to me as soon as you can"? Yeah that's about as passive aggressive as it gets. You were probably almost fired. In fact if you lost your job shortly after that incident... now you know why.

"I'll be in meetings all day" means "I want to run away and never see you again."

"What've you got for lunch?" means "Can I have some?"

And "How's the husband?" means "If you have a husband, I've forgotten his name."

Hopefully the video above will help you decipher all this and more.

The biggest take away? When HR asks "if you have time for a chat"... run fast, in the opposite direction.