Categorized | Workplace

Dealing With Office Gossip

Posted on 20 May 2011

Omigod! It’s Office Gossip

Cultivate a professional working environment by reducing idle chat.

Gossip. It can be so much fun. Who did what? Who did what to whom? What was she wearing? Can you believe what he wrote in that e-mail? My goodness. A few minutes too many around the old office water cooler and you’ve become Great Aunt Bessie at the beauty parlor.

Shakespeare couldn’t have said it better himself: “Beware, friends, of gossip. It is the big-mouthed monster that mocks the juicy news it feeds on.” Seriously, gossip is one dangerous vice. It will (and I mean will) come back to haunt you. The office is not the place for loose-lipped or mean-spirited chatter. The office is part of your professional life, not your personal life. If you want to elude the temptation to talk, here are some ways to keep it professional.

Just Like Your Mom Said…
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Unless it’s constructive criticism on something business-related, keep the catty comments to yourself.

I hate to quote Mom on this one, but she definitely has a point. If you’ve ever been the subject of gossip, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Unless it’s constructive criticism on something business-related, keep the catty comments to yourself. No one needs to know your opinion on the “ugly short-sleeved dress shirts” that your “sweaty pig” of a boss wears. Planting one little seed of negativity in your impressionable co-workers’ minds can sprout a beanstalk of colored perceptions and harmful vibes. You can alienate your peers–and supervisors–with just one word.

Just Like Your Jilted Ex Said…
“What goes around, comes around.”

Whether you’re into the whole Karma thing or you just believe in that Golden Rule stuff, this adage holds true. Start dishing out the goods and you may be one of the cool kids for a while–until they revert back to a high school mentality. And then you’re in trouble. Mess up a project, get a promotion, kiss up to the boss, get a haircut, whatever, and you could be the target of a cruel office culture that you helped cultivate.

Just Like Your Best Friend Said…
“They’re just jealous.”

Could any statement ring more true? When it comes down to it, people do things out of discomfort, low self-esteem, and self-doubt. And what could possibly make them feel better about themselves? Putting other people down, of course. They don’t really hate your Palm Pilot VII, they’re just jealous you have one and they don’t. It’s just like the Tonka trucks and designer Barbie duds of your childhood.

This kind of symbiotic envy can become overwhelming. Even the most meaningless minutiae can balloon into irrational issues. If you sense a co-worker searching for a little stability, stay as far away from that mess as you can. Offer your support, but do so objectively.

Just Like Johnny Law Said…
“Just say no.”

If you can refuse the temptation of whole creamer, you can resist coffee-break gossip. Instead of ensnaring yourself in the bitter banter, why not steer it toward something more positive? Perhaps you might indulge your gossipy urge by talking about celebrities: What was Jennifer Aniston thinking when she cut off her hair? Who does that Ricky Martin think he is, anyway?

If you can’t change your water cooler cohorts, just excuse yourself from the inner circle. Without saying anything, your actions will generally indicate that you’re not down with the dish. Colleagues may not invite you to chat as often, but you’ll know better.


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