Workplace gossip is the gift that keeps on giving. No workplace is immune to it and most workplaces are ideal incubators for it. Some workplace rumor mills rival the efficiency and accuracy of top tabloids. Besides ruining the reputations of its targets and purveyors, gossip is an infamous destroyer of workplace cohesion and productivity. Avoiding workplace gossip is difficult, but worth the effort.
Develop and make proper use of a sixth-sense for gossip. Sometimes merely overhearing gossip can result in coworkers hounding you for details. Identify signs of impending betrayal such as exaggerated whispering to attract your attention. Walk away before the beans are spilled to avoid being in-the-know.
Steer clear of “unofficial” meetings. Employee clusters are fertile grounds for workplace gossip. Don’t pretend not to know this. Ignore sneaky attempts to get you to come into the hallway to witness Brenda’s outfit or Amy’s haircut. Map out several routes back to your desk to avoid getting caught in gossip jams.
Make your anti-gossip position well-known around your workplace. Let Nosy Rosy and her disciples know that you won’t be participating in their gossip sessions. Explain that professionalism dictates that you must overcome your urge to engage in workplace gossip. Ask coworkers to respect your decision -- at least while you’re at work.
Stop being a part of the problem. Professing your disdain for gossip, while actively listening to it and spreading it is hypocritical. Abandon snooping tactics and coworkers who employ them. Never repeat rumors or encourage coworkers to visit Nosy Rosy for the latest facts. Passing on stories dirties your hands and makes you a potential target for retaliation from rumor victims. Besides, your two-faced actions may even make you the subject of gossip.
Express no interest when you hear rumors. Change the subject whenever rumors arise. Show your best poker face to discourage coworkers from relaying distasteful tidbits. Just say “no” when you are asked if you want to hear juicy details about Paula’s affair or Hillary’s theft investigation. Eventually, coworkers will get the message.
Influence your coworkers to stop gossiping. Discuss the negative effects of spreading rumors. Ask coworkers how they would feel if their personal lives were the subject of a gossip circle. Shake your head and excuse yourself from the table when lunch conversations turn sour. While gossip police isn’t included in your official job description, working to end this behavior can lead to better workdays for everyone.
- Focus on your work instead of rumor mill headlines.
Mika Lo has been producing online content since 2005. The majority of her work has been published in areas such as parenting, lifestyle and health. Lo has also assisted with the development of community and hospital-based patient education programs, including creative discharge classes for new mothers and assisting underprivileged patients with medication assistance and information.