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You Can Help To Lessen Gossip At Work

Updated on August 16, 2013
Some gossips can be friendly towards you, others not so.
Some gossips can be friendly towards you, others not so. | Source

Many of us have been listeners, creators, or targets of gossip at work. Perhaps there are some whispers just behind your back and then some embarrassed looks by co-workers. You or someone you know has been the subject of gossip, innuendo or a downright lie. Then the words are repeated and spread like wildfire. Soon everyone and their brother knows something that paints someone in a bad light but may not even be true.

Sometimes a made-up story about an office romance can make you the subject of envy or disdain. Perhaps a higher up will serve as a mentor for you and others become resentful and gossip about this. GOD help you if the mentor is of the opposite sex because the rumor mill goes into overdrive. It may be possible that others think you are receiving benefits that they are not such as longer lunches, better pay, or more time off and they want to vent...with gossip.

When someone says what you know is untrue, insulting, or highly questionable, it's a good idea to change the subject or try stand up for whomever is the subject of the rumor. It makes no difference whether or not you know the target of the gossip, stopping the rumor of the moment and getting back on task is the goal...even more so in the eyes of your employer. Gossip can often be stopped just by saying a few words or asking a question that can change the subject. Understand that being silent doesn't help, it only keeps the message going from person to person.

Information is a commodity and our value can rise with knowledge. But gossip is not the kind of knowledge that we should promote at work. Let's take the example of an office romance that never happened. People privy to the supposed relationship may snicker or sneer just because flowers are delivered. Don't assume that the subjects of the gossip aren't aware of it, they may simply fear retaliation with more gossip or other tactics and attempt to stick their heads in the sand.

Some people are great with humor and timing. Perhaps you have a good one liner that could turn attention to something else or could provide time to get a quick laugh and then return to work or other topics. Others are more bold and make it clear they want to change the subject, being upfront or less so doesn't matter but taking action does matter. It's in the best interests of all to stop the negativity at hand and focus on work or other topics.

Being in a small circle of people who are "in the know" is tantalizing to some people. Benefits of being in cliques, if any, are often short-term, particularly at work and it's a sad sight to see adults acting in this manner. Your performance evaluations and/or your ability to advance in the company may be harmed by your actions, in-actions, and your words. Tread more carefully and make your work and that of any teams you are part of the priority while at work. If you don't want to stand up for others or yourself, speak with your feet by removing yourself immediately from the gossip. Others will catch on that gossip is not welcome in your presence and some may be inspired to do the same.

This type of behavior actually drags down productivity and it's not uncommon for the quality of work to be affected negatively for some people. Malicious words at work are a dirty tactic that can can distract or take time away from the work at hand and make it difficult to get through the day, negatively affect work, and even drag down company revenues/profits.

Others actually quit their jobs in search of greener and more professional pastures because of very negative experiences with workplace gossip. Finding and training replacements often costs the company time, productivity, and money if gossip makes the workplace negative enough for their employees. Going even further, some companies allow gossip to fester so much so that gossip becomes part of their culture making them an unattractive employer to potential applicants that may have been warned by current and former employees.

When you find someone to praise at work, let that be among the messages that you share with your co-workers. Many people instinctively know that gossipers will eventually gossip about them whether or not they are friends or share in the gossip. So don't fuel the gossip fire, and pour a diplomatic bucket of water on the silly, mean, or hurtful spark ASAP. There are many things that idle hands can gossip about but the key words here are idle hands. Gossip is most often exchanged when people are idle and not actually working. Perhaps reminding them of where they are or an urgent deadline will get them back on task.

Has gossip or office politics ever played a role in you quitting a job?

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    • Express10 profile image
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      H C Palting 3 years ago from East Coast

      What you say is sad but true Ahdilarum. Some people can have their careers ruined or even be fired due to gossip at work.

    • Ahdilarum profile image

      Ahdilarum 3 years ago

      Gossips are really dangerous thing in office. It never has hand or leg but it can move or run very fast.

    • Express10 profile image
      Author

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      I agree. Then there are always the proverbial bad apples that attempt to spoil the bunch no matter what. I am happy I don't have to deal with these types anymore.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Great thoughts. I think you have to establish early on that you have a sense of personal integrity to coworkers. If this is the case they aren't as likely to gossibp.

    • Express10 profile image
      Author

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      I agree, gossip can be very divisive and distracting at work.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Stopping gossip makes a healthier work environment.