Gossip at the Work Place

Work at any place for even a short period of time and you are guaranteed to be exposed to gossip. It is unavoidable. Co-workers talk about each other, juniors talk about their bosses and bosses talk about the CEO. Justification; the information is just too juicy to keep quiet about!

Let’s begin with a basic understanding of gossip. Gossip is simply discrediting talk about someone who is not present. There are several reasons that make people engage n this kind of talk of the workplace. What reasons?

An obvious one is to seek revenge on the co-worker we feel wronged by him/her and rather than directly confront or ridicule this person, we elect to malign him/her and to spread rumours about him/her behind his/her back.

Second, gossip bonds the people who engage in it. Talking about a common enemy or problem tend to bring colleagues closer.

And thirdly, gossip is intended at knocking someone down a few notches so that we may feel superior to the person. We try to enhance our image at the expense of someone else, and to many cases we do not consciously realize that this is why we are gossiping; bolstering our own image by denigrating the lives and actions of others.

Negative gossip includes untruths accusations or taking credit for someone else’s idea and it harms people. Whether the harm is intentional or not, it can cause great hurt to both the victim and rumormongers’ reputation. No beating around the bush here, gossip is to be avoided.

First draw a clear line between work and personal lives. Do not give detailed answers about income, sexuality, politics and relationships. It may be fun to talk about who is being forced to resign, who is sleeping with who, and who is next in line for promotion-but is this what you were hired for?

Second if you become the subject of damaging gossip, confront it. Get to find the source of the gossip and privately seek to set the record straight. Ask the person to refrain from spreading rumors. They may deny it, but they will know they are caught and will stop.

If you are invited to participate in injurious gossip, tactfully but resolutely state that you are not interested in leaving details of someone else’s life and excuse yourself, (unless of cause you have no values) usually if the first response to a negative comment is challenge to it, then the conversation is much less likely to become a gossip fest.

Often, the proponent of the gossip responds by moderating or even retracting the opinion and the conversation goes in any number of directions.

This means that any time gossip rears its ugly head, you can immediately, but gently challenge it. Once you make this a habit, you will not only find yourself participating in much less gossip, but you will also reduce conflict with and among your co-workers. In those cases where you actually agree with the negative assessment, rather than joining in or even remaining silent, you can look for a creative way to quickly steer the conversation elsewhere.

In other words when you agree with the gossiper, neither endorse nor denounce the negative opinion, but instead tactfully change the subject. And be ware of drama queens. Every office has its bitter, volatile staffers and you may be judged guilty by association. Avoid these gossip-baiters. Who know how they will translate what you say? And learn to dismiss then from your desk calmly by leaving for the ladies/gents or suddenly remember you have calls to make.

Most importantly, respect your colleague’s privacy. Never gossip about anything told to you in confidence. You never want anyone to pass on what you have shared with them in secret. So in the same way, honor the promise of keeping it to yourself.

Finally, keep yourself busy. Idle hands are the devils forked tongue. Never ball-mouth. Alliances shift and you never know when you will work with someone again. Stick to the professional (merge rumours, change of work systems) avoid the personal (the long nose of co-workers boyfriend.

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