Thanks to the common sense workplace etiquette of the 21st century, most people know not to heat up fish in the microwave or show up to the office with the flu. But have you ever considered how everyday conversations play a major role in shaping the culture of your workplace? Conversations amongst coworkers can either contribute to a respectful, productive environment or rip a business off its rails through gossip, hostility, and lack of focus. One of the most important factors in any workspace is communication, and keeping conversations productivity-focused throughout the day can benefit every employee trying to get through the workday. These are three tips to help keep your workplace conversations professional.

Steer clear from gossip

During mundane lulls in workload, it can be easy to bunch together and chat with your fellow coworkers to the pass the time. Some employees may attempt to fill boring stretches of their days with unnecessary office gossip. Although it can be easy to fall into the semi-addictive habit of gossiping about coworkers, bosses, or annoying customers, gossip can come back to bite you later. While it may keep you entertained for a moment in the day, it sets you up for failure in your work environment. It creates a hostile, tense, and unwelcoming culture that makes it more difficult to effectively communicate with other members of your team.

Before you blab about anyone in or related to the office, consider how it may affect your reputation amongst your coworkers and customers later. Talking behind people’s backs makes it difficult to discuss matters with them face-to-face, creating a wedge between you and those who share your workspace. When gossip gets back to the person it’s targeted at, it can also result in an HR write-up. Instead of indulging in gossip, try to keep any recreational conversations positive and uplifting. Offer compliments to fellow employees who are making progress in their workload or gently encourage those who are falling behind.

Don’t get into arguments

No one is always right. People in your workplace (including you) are bound to make some mistakes, screw up, and run their mouths off about subjects they don’t fully understand. In addition, you aren’t always going to be a fan of every single one of your coworkers. You wouldn’t be human if you loved every single one of the people you work with. Some of your coworkers may have different opinions than yours, take credit for work you’ve done, or share behaviors that irritate you to no end. However, getting angry accomplishes zilch, and arguments are one of the best ways to hinder communication between you and your officemates.

Instead of getting confrontational with a colleague, try to reason with them in a calm, healthy manner. Attempt to place yourself in their shoes and understand their point of view. This can help you have a conversation where you can meet in the middle to resolve conflict, friction, and disagreements. If you do find yourself getting heated and blowing up on any coworkers, make sure you apologize and explain your intentions. While you may not want to say sorry, asking for forgiveness is better than dealing with a hostile colleague for months to come.

Remember where you are/read the room

At the end of the day, you’re in a place of business. It isn’t the location to constantly overshare personal information, frequently strike up a casual conversation, or spill the juicy details of your weekend plans. This rule may not apply at office parties or a meetup for drinks after work, but in your workspace, keeping any chit-chat work-focused is both respectful and admirable. Keeping conversation professional, even in a lighthearted work environment, reflects positively on your work ethic and respect for your job. Using formal language and engaging in conversation that betters your work environment will establish you as both a leader and a dedicated employee in your workplace.

If you find yourself tempted by colleagues who like to engage in distracting chatter during the day, try to be someone who redirects their conversations to workplace topics. Be responsible for keeping yourself on track, but don’t be afraid to respectful yet firmly redirect colleagues to keep their conversation professional and appropriate. Having the initiative to foster healthy communication in the workplace is a great way to establish yourself as a responsible colleague. Additionally, keeping your conversations professional will help you remain focused on your work throughout the day, ensuring you meet your goals for your workload. It’s a win-win.