Gossip and negativity in the workplace are typically symptoms of serious underlying issues, such as jealousy, insecurity, miscommunication and overall unhappiness. Combat your co-workers' dark sides by shining your own inner light. Face each day armed with a bright smile and a glad heart. As the saying goes, you have to be the change you want to see in the world.
Refuse to participate in gossip and negativity, even if others are actively involved nearby. If avoiding or ignoring doesn’t work and you are approached directly, take a stance. Say something like, “I’d prefer not to discuss people while they aren’t present to offer their own perspectives,” or “I choose not to gossip about people, because I would be upset if someone gossiped about me.” Declare openly that you practice the golden rule.
Refrain from complaining about others, whether work-related or otherwise. Recognize that complaining, no matter how harmless, can open the door for gossip and negativity. If you have problems with your co-workers, confront them directly, rather than discussing the issue with your peers. If you can’t resolve the problem by speaking to you co-worker directly, take the issue to a supervisor or a human resources representative.
Shield yourself from being gossiped about by refusing to take the bait. Say to bad news bringers and drama messengers, “I don’t participate in gossip, so I won’t be able to discuss what Lisa said about me unless she says it to my face.” If you’re comfortable with confrontation, go to the person you suspect is gossiping about you and ask openly, “Do you have a problem with me? Is there something you would like to discuss? Have I offended you? Let’s resolve this issue.” If you take the high road, your co-workers will be forced to meet you on your level.
Radiate positivity as an anti-gossip tactic. Find ways to genuinely compliment your co-workers on a regular basis. Let everyone around you know how much you appreciate their efforts and contributions. Before your shifts, decide that you’re going to have a good day no matter what. Surround your work space with motivational phrases and pictures that will keep you in a positive frame of mind. When gossip and negativity strikes, take a few quiet moments to breathe deeply and reaffirm your commitment to remain drama free.
Reduce the possibility of being gossiped about by keeping your personal business to yourself. Even if a few of your co-workers are dear friends, don’t discuss your personal life during business hours. Don't dish details in the break room; save it for happy hour or weekend brunch. To eliminate the possibility of being eavesdropped or spied upon, nix personal phone calls on the premises, and keep personal Internet surfing and personal emails to the confines of your own home. Even if you can’t disarm every bit of gossip and negativity at work, refuse to provide live ammunition.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.