Controlling Workplace Gossip & Bullies

Gossip and bullying can throw a monkey wrench into productivity.
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Unfortunately, sometimes gossip and bullying don't stop in high school. You probably won't get slammed into a locker at your job, but you'll still find co-workers talking behind your back and threatening your job in a number of ways. When gossip and bullying are not controlled, the workplace turns into a free-fall. Whether you're a manager or an employee, you have to step up to the plate and make sure that unacceptable behavior is nipped in the bud before it's too late.

Increasing Awareness to Work

    Sometimes people talk trash about others because they are frustrated with their own lives -- personal or professional. They don't see a big deal in venting about how slow a receptionist is or commenting on how ugly the new girl's sweater is. To show the effects of gossip and bullying in the workplace, employers should hold a training session, including videos, speakers and interactive group participation, to enlighten their employees.

Don't Reward Loose Lips

    If a staff member comes up to you with a juicy story about another co-worker, play dumb or change the subject. It's not as much fun to share gossip with a person who is unwilling to participate. When your ears don't perk up with excitement, your "loose lips" co-worker may not stop by your desk as often. If ambivalence doesn't work, try having an honest discussion about staying focused on work, such as "I think it's a good idea to stay positive. Let's forget about everybody's business and focus on doing the best job on this project!"

Taking Your Bully Out

    In the playground, a bully will take her first swing when she realizes that you don't want to fight. The workplace is not so different. Let a workplace bully know that her actions are against your company's policies and that she can be reprimanded for her behavior. If nothing changes, keep a trail of emails, memos and daily notes, detailing your bully's actions. Knock your bully out by bringing your evidence to the attention of management or your human resources department.

Being an Open Book

    In a cutthroat workplace environment, anything goes. However, active communication keeps World War III from brewing at your job. By being transparent with your team, you will gain their trust and respect. If you keep secrets, you are encouraging paranoia, gossip and a "survival of the fittest" mentality. When roles and expectations are clear, employees understand the possible good and bad consequences to their actions.

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