One class I wish I had taken in college was ‘Work Gossip 101’. While this class probably does not exist, it should. I no longer work in an office setting, but I remember the damage of idle gossip very clearly.
When my friends have complaints about their jobs, it’s seldom related to the job itself. More often than not, the problems have to do with a coworker. Somebody said something about someone, and then that person saidÃ¢Â?Â¦well, you get the picture.
If the Gossip Is About You
If there is gossip floating around the office about you, you will find yourself scattered and disorganized. You will spend more time worrying about damage control than you will about doing your job.
If the gossip is work related, you may fear for your job. If it is personal, you may be feeling violated and picked on. If you are the victim of either type of gossip, your first step should be to visit your Human Resources department. They should have advice for you and ways to handle the problem.
It’s always in your best interest to avoid lashing out. This will only add drama to the situation. Do your best to ignore it. It may be impossible for you to ignore it, but at least try to act as if it does not bother you. If you are personally addressed about the issue from a coworker, you can deny the gossip but refrain from getting into deep discussions about it. Let your boss or Human Resources deal with the problem.
If You Are Spreading Gossip
You can admit it. We have all done it at one time or another. Sometimes we just hear something so incredible we feel the urge to pass it along. We often do this without thinking about it. When you are in a work environment however, you really should think hard before passing something along.
You have no way to know if the gossip you have heard is true. It could damage someone’s reputation unfairly. It will also make you look bad for taking part. If something you hear concerns you, go directly to the source. If this doesn’t seem like a good option, talk with Human Relations about the problem. Keep in mind this is only useful for work-related gossip. If it’s personal gossip about someone, close your mouth and forget about it. It really is not worth hurting someone or causing them stress if it isn’t true.
Email may be a blessing for improving the speed of business communications, but it has its drawbacks. Email accounts meant for business purposes are often used for personal communications as well. From this springs a whole new form of gossip.
Many make the mistake of complaining about a coworker or boss via email. The problem with email is that you can’t take it back. Once you have sent it, it is totally out of your control. It could be forwarded many times over. What you thought was a private conversation or vent session turns into an inner office memo.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming your emails are private. If you have a complaint, go to the person directly. Schedule a meeting with your boss and address your complaints vocally. While it may take a bit for your boss to fit you in, this may be a good thing. This will give you time to settle down and get your thoughts in order. If you spout off an angry email, you will probably regret half of what you said anyway.
There is probably no way to put an end to office gossip. There is nothing you can do to control it. You can, however, control your participation in the cycle. If you hear something, let it go in one ear and out the other.
Something important to remember about gossip is that it changes as it goes. What you are hearing, or saying, is probably wrong anyway. An item of gossip often gets garbled as it makes its way from person to person. “Sandy has a private meeting with the VP of Sales” can get turned into “Sandy is having an affair with the VP of Sales” rather easily.
Gossip can get vicious enough to make a person rethink keeping their job. Save the gossip for your non-work friends, it has no place at work. You may end up feeling a little out of the loop if your refrain from spreading the gossip, but you’ll be a lot happier for it.