How To Handle Office Gossip.
Office gossip is one of those situations at any workplace that cannot be avoided and may have some positive effects. However, this situation can sometimes come with many detrimental effects. While it may sometimes, be a source of entertainment and way to spice up the very monotonous work life, it can affect those that choose to regularly take part in it or are subject to it negatively.
Gossip is quite hard to avoid in any work situation and many would say it is part of human beings’ communication cycle. In the words of Julie Jansen, career coach and author of I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This, “It’s part of the fabric of our communication…It’s absolutely impossible not to gossip, just keep it to a minimum.”
Before delving into this issue, what really is office gossip anyway?
The way we would define office gossip is often a casual conversation between two or more people at the workplace that could be about other people (famous or work colleagues); personal details of other people’s lives; behavior or change in the organization. In many cases, the information usually shared in this type of conversation is often not really factual, seeks to harm the reputation of another person and is often unkind. However, one should note that not all gossip is bad or seeks to harm other people’s reputation.
Much as office gossip has largely been considered to be something very negative, it has some advantages of its own and if kept to the minimal in smart ways it can actually help one flourish in any workplace. Some of the rare advantages include:
- It’s ability to build relationships between co-workers if they stick to the right and not too damaging topics.
- It can be very informative. Be it about current affairs or about other people’s personalities that could give one the basis they need to know how to relate with these different people.
The fact that gossip can sometimes be good and bad is exactly what makes the office gossip situation a bit tricky in any workplace. So how does one really handle this situation and use it to their advantage much as it could affect one’s performance and career growth negatively?
Here are some pointers to help you:
1.How to react when you are the center of the gossip: supposing you are caught up in a situation where you find out some very unpleasant and wrong gossip is going around about you. How do you handle this situation?
First and foremost it is important to know what exact information is going around. After
this step, one should then go ahead and find the source of the gossip. This enables one to
handle the situation right from its route.
Having discovered the source of the news, one has to then go ahead and confront this person. It is important for one to remain objective and in control of their emotions so that they do not have to react aggressively which could cause another situation. It is important not to take this gossip way too personal or defensively. Seek to solve the underlying causes of the gossip in an objective way.
When one confronts the source of the gossip, they should seek to express their negative feelings by using, “I” statements and go ahead to try and actually create a more positive relationship with the other party after airing out any grievances and reaching a consensus.
Should one fail to resolve the situation on their own or simply fail to find the source of the gossip, they should then go ahead and seek the help of their supervisor or Human Resource personnel.
2. Keep certain aspects of your personal life personal: much as it is important to share some parts of your personal life with your workmates for example whether you are married or not or have children, not all of your personal life should be out there in the open. As long as there exists information about you that someone could use against you, it is wise not to share it at all.
3.Think about how it could affect another person: many times you are bound to be in a situation where one of your colleagues wishes to share some juicy news with you. Taking part in it and further fueling the gossip can be very tempting but before you do so, always think about how the gossip could affect another person.
If it will damage the reputation of another person, or you are talking about something that you have no facts about, it would be wise to simply not take part in it. Putting yourself in the subject’s shoes enables you to do this wisely and simply avoid the gossip.
4.Choose to follow facts rather than assumptions: perhaps you are a team leader and you hear about some information concerning one of your team members that does not seem to be in line with your team values. Before going ahead to judge the subject in question or take action, it is right for you to find the facts about the situation.
Basing on assumptions rather than facts in relating with your work colleagues not only jeopardizes your relationships with them but also affects your work performance negatively. Sure there is often, “no smoke without fire” but sometimes this smoke simply does not lead to a huge fire. Before making any judgments and taking part in the gossip, always be armed with all the necessary information you need.
5.Knowing what gossip to participate in and what type not to: it is okay to participate in a little gossip as long as it does not have detrimental effects on one’s work or other people’s lives.
Avoiding topics such as those related to your co-workers’ confidential information, your boss or any negative information about someone is wise. Sharing rumors about other people can often backfire on you and present you as an untrustworthy co-worker or employee. No matter how good one’s performance may be, such a reputation is not the best to have.
Should you have a personal problem with your boss or one of your co-workers it is better to approach them and sort it out with them rather than involving everyone else.
When it comes to information about the organization such as mergers, acquisitions, promotions or any confidential information about the organization, it is still not right for one to share this information unless they have been given the permission to do so. Sharing such information presents one as an employee that cannot be trusted with confidential information about the organization.
If the gossip could affect you or another person in a negative way, is not factual, or is information that you are not professionally allowed to share, it is best not to take part in it and should you hear anything related to it, keeping it to yourself would also be a better option.
Should you take part in gossip, be sure that it is positive and accurate news that will help you groom your relationship with other people. For example, should you have accurate information about your rival company that could help your company step up or do better, sharing this information can be impressive to your boss and can help boost your career.
Now that you are fully aware of what effects office gossip could have and how to handle it best, ensure you exploit this unavoidable aspect of your workplace to help your career elevate.