Is Workplace Gossip Harmful?

Think before you speak.

Think before you speak.

It seems like just yesterday you were in class passing notes about how Mike Jones kissed Angie Jenkins behind the gym. As an adult, you'll find that gossip in the workplace is not much different than those high school days. Workplace gossip can be harmful to your reputation and the office culture. So the next time you want to tell your cube neighbor about Ann's terrible hair cut -- bite your tongue.

What It Does to The Office Culture

Even if it’s not malicious, office gossip kills morale. It is in human nature to complain, but the negativity can tear down your coworkers and your team. Gossiping also alienates the target, whether it's your boss or the woman in the office next to you. Employees who gossip are typically avoiding confrontation, whispering about topics that are part of a greater office issue that should be addressed as a group.

What It Does To You

If you gossip, not only will it harm your coworker's reputation, but yours, as well. It will destroy your credibility and show immaturity. You will be known as that woman who can't be trusted because she "talks too much." No one will want to tell you anything. Supervisors do not approve of gossip, and therefore you will not be respected. Avoid this by going straight to the source if you have a problem, don't involve your coworkers.

How to Stop It

As a supervisor, it's best if you create a zero-tolerance gossip policy. Make sure your employees know that gossiping will not be tolerated. This applies to you, as well. Supervisors and managers must be held accountable. Remember, good leaders don't gossip. As an employee, keep the gossip to yourself. Leaking it only causes harm to yourself and others. Gently remind those gossiping around you that you do not want to take part.

It's Not All Bad

The University of Kentucky conducted a study in 2010, concluding that not all gossip is harmful to the organization. Gossip about workplace issues, especially in times of uncertainty, can help employees to cope. It is common for employees to talk about how they feel at work to ease their anxiety. Lastly, the study revealed that savvy supervisors can use office gossip to their advantage by learning of issues before they hit the fan.

 

About the Author

Lisa Hope is a professional writer and entrepreneur. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism, specializing in online media, and a master's in mass communications specializing in social media, both from the University of Florida. She is a professor of communications, a novelist, and the founder of a firm that specializes in resume review.

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