Dealing with Office Gossip
Wherever there is an office, there is office gossip. A quick catch-up round the watercooler may not seem like it is doing any harm but office gossip can be harmful. Not only can it affect the stress levels of the people you are talking about, it can also have an adverse affect on your Career Development. Nobody wants to employ somebody who can’t be trusted and makes snide comments about others, so watch what you say. If you are the one being gossiped about, then stand up for yourself and don’t let their childishness win.
Why People GossipThere are a number of reasons why people gossip, whether in the office or elsewhere. First, it can be a bonding experience. You and your colleagues may not have very much in common except the people you work with, so talking about them gives you a shared interest. Also, commenting on their weaknesses makes you feel better about yourself and your own failures. Insecurity is the main reason why gossips and bullies talk about others.
Don’t Get InvolvedWhen everyone else around you is gossiping it can be difficult not to get involved. However, think about how you would feel if they were gossiping about you. The best thing you can do is to walk away from the situation, or if you are feeling brave, tell them straight up that you don’t want to be a gossip. If they are worth socialising with, they will respect your decision.
Approach The RingleaderIf you find out that any of your colleagues are gossiping about you, you need to stand up for yourself. This can be daunting but you need to show them that they can’t hide behind their big mouths. Work out who the ringleader is and confront them about it. Obviously you want to avoid conflict, so remain calm and do it in private. Try to work out the problem in a mature and respectful manner and come to an agreement together.
Report BulliesIf you have tried to talk to the gossips and they are continuing to be disrespectful, you may need to report them to your manager. Gossip is a form of bullying and should not be tolerated in any workplace. You don’t want their negative influence to affect your career development so get the situation dealt with. Explain to your boss what has been happening, give practical examples and offer a solution that would make things better.
Office gossip may be an integral part of working life but that doesn’t mean that it is acceptable. Try to not to get involved in any form of gossip and walk away if your colleagues start discussing others. If the gossip is about you, try to approach the ringleader and discuss the problem amicably. If there is still not a resolution, you may need to report it as gossiping is a form of bullying and should not be allowed to impact your happiness at work.