I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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Lately, all I do at lunch is talk about work. And by talking, I mean bitching. So instead of a nice leisurely lunch filled with lively conversation about politics, film, or just the weather, it’s another trap to fill my head with work stress.

So here’s my new rule for lunch: stop the shop talk.

That means no complaining about clients. No agonizing over schedules. And absolutely no discussion about anything else work-related. Lunch is not the time to reflect about work. It’s the time to eat, rest, and relax. Remember, lunch should be a micro-vacation.

I know I haven’t been blogging as much as folks would like. Thanks to everyone for bearing with me, as I try to balance my blogging duties with my working duties.

25 Comments

  • Patrick

    gravatarSep 8, 2008
    9:52 am

    Exactly. I have enforced that rule lately with my team as well.

  • M

    gravatarSep 8, 2008
    10:03 am

    I’ve got a friend who’s entire office watches Survivor religiously. She finds the lunch talk unbearable.

  • Andrew

    gravatarSep 8, 2008
    11:49 am

    I did that the whole time today because my morning SUCKED!!!

  • James Pearson

    gravatarSep 8, 2008
    12:02 pm

    I completely agree.

    At one place I worked, lunch was considered a luxury and you were expected to respond to “drop by” meetings even with food on your desk.

    Once I started taking a book to work, and leaving the office for a lunch hour every day I was much happier, and resented by my colleagues who stayed in the office.

    James

  • emdoozie

    gravatarSep 8, 2008
    12:04 pm

    I can definitely can relate to your post. I tailgate for football season at a local university here in Orlando (UCF) with fellow employees and our number one rule is to not bring up work matters. It’s bad enough that you only get to escape for the weekend. The mind needs that break. Beer, trash talking, & sausages does the trick! :-) You know you have gotten away (correctly) for the weekend when you can barely remember what you did the Friday before on Monday morning.

  • kcato

    gravatarSep 8, 2008
    12:42 pm

    I didn’t realize how much I talked about work during lunch until now. Great suggestion.

  • Tinu

    gravatarSep 8, 2008
    1:48 pm

    Amen to that. The hardest thing has been getting away from people who also talk shop at work – especially since most of the people I eat lunch with absolutely Love their work. But. No excuses. :)

  • Chanpory Rith

    gravatarSep 8, 2008
    4:08 pm

    Hey Tinu,

    Another trick is to make lunch dates with people outside of work. That helps avoid the compulsion for shop talk. And it makes a nice clean break from work for an hour.

  • Alexandre

    gravatarSep 8, 2008
    7:25 pm

    Useful rule. And there should be more thought given to compartmentalizing work and life. Those who truly love to work know how to do it.

  • joshnunn

    gravatarSep 9, 2008
    1:00 am

    And the corollary, don’t start telling me about all the problem that I need to fix during MY lunchbreak. Nothing kills the relaxing mood like being asked a bunch of questions or told about a problem while I’m eating. Please just drop me a note or and email instead, or come and see me when I’m sitting at my desk.

  • Jeanie Marshall

    gravatarSep 9, 2008
    6:15 am

    The thoughts you consume with your food are just as important as the food itself. Complaints, worries, and problems are as indigestible as eating the tablecloth. Food is more palatable with laughter, pleasant thoughts, breathing, and playfulness. Enjoy your meals. :-)

  • Stephanie

    gravatarSep 9, 2008
    5:14 pm

    At my friend’s old fraternity, whenever there was any “nerd talk” at the dinner table, the brother would be swiftly carried to the nearest bathroom and showered. It seemed to prove a point.

    I’ve also heard about people going out for lunch with coworkers, and whoever first talks about work has to pay for lunch. I guess once someone talks about it, then everyone feels free to talk shop.

  • nick

    gravatarSep 10, 2008
    2:50 pm

    If you stop talking about work during lunch, then you could probably spend that time blogging?

  • Elio Galluzzi

    gravatarSep 13, 2008
    8:52 am

    I like your definition of a pause from work as a “micro-vacation”. Even few minutes spent focusing on amusing things will refresh your brain and boost your positivity. …Unless you like to work so much that it has become your favourite leisure:)

  • pelf

    gravatarSep 15, 2008
    6:05 am

    Exactly my sentiment! But I do know a couple of people who wouldn’t stop talking TO ME about work during lunch hour!

    No, I don’t want to talk WORK with you when I’m eating, otherwise I’d NEVER stop talking about work. But how do you “gently” tell people this without hurting their feelings?

  • Aman Chaudhary

    gravatarSep 15, 2008
    12:00 pm

    My mom used to always give this advice!

    Making outside lunch dates is also a great move.

  • Michael@ Awareness * Connection

    gravatarSep 22, 2008
    12:08 am

    Wow. Looks like you’ve got a consensus on this one. Beautifully simple and relevant idea.

    The people who have trouble with doing this either A. Don’t know they do it as much as they do, or B. have difficulty inhibiting their impulse to do so. Making it a pretty overt rule, I think, helps with that.

  • Thomas

    gravatarSep 22, 2008
    3:34 pm

    “But how do you –œgently– tell people this without hurting their feelings?”

    Answer: Post it on a blog and hope they run across it. Lol

  • Suzanne

    gravatarSep 27, 2008
    6:53 pm

    I just stopped going to lunch with my coworkers. They don’t even invite me anymore. I am more than okay with that.

  • Mike Solara

    gravatarSep 29, 2008
    12:40 pm

    I firmly believe everyone who is able should leave work for lunch (preferably without people from work). The break has a rejuvinating effect on you and this way you can split your day into morning and afternoon work–not just one big blob of working all day.

    Leaving work without work people results in no talk about work, if you stick to it yourself with others.

  • Nathalie Lussier from Billionaire Woman

    gravatarOct 1, 2008
    3:39 pm

    That’s something I wish everyone at work would realize. Maybe it’s time for a quick mass email to the office newsgroup. :)

  • StrangeRover

    gravatarOct 31, 2008
    10:34 am

    Good advice – with one exception.

    If I have work conversations at lunch (or dinner), I can deduct a portion of the meal cost from my taxes. I don’t abuse it, but it’s a real consideration.

    I have a colleague who jokes, “Ask me how work is going, so I can write this off on my taxes.” I also know he doesn’t abuse it, but it’s part of the whole picture.

  • Veronica

    gravatarNov 9, 2008
    3:35 am

    If you discontinue talking regarding job during lunch, then you might most likely use that time blogging? But this not a good idea too I think so. Just forget everything and have good time having your lunch.

  • Brent

    gravatarFeb 27, 2009
    3:20 pm

    I agree with you. I am constantly having to remind those that I go out with to keep it light. I believe it might stem from a uncomfortable-ness with silence, and really the only thing they have in common to talk about is work, so that is why it always comes up as a discussion point.

  • Christine

    gravatarJul 14, 2010
    3:04 pm

    My problem is my co-workers do not invite me to lunch. There is one co-worker I will ask to go to lunch with and she always says no. But then I find out the ones that don’t invite me, invite her and she goes! So finally, I did go one day with one of the “nicer” girls that is in the clich. We went with another co-worker from another building. Well, all they did was complain about their personal lives. It was horrible. I tried to change the subject, but no use. So like today, I found out they all went out and included the one that never goes with me. I don’t feel so bad now because I know all they are going to do is complain and grip about their personal lives and gossip about work. I will say that it does hurt not to get invited and I can say no, but I just keep the other stuff in the back of my mind.