By Louise Bauer Davoli
Gossip can be found in just about every workplace setting. Some folks say it is just harmless fun but rarely is that the case. Gossiping can undermine a person credibility, destroy your own self-confidence as well as ruin others' reputations. Gossip is seductive and it is easy to get caught up in the mix of chatter.
Gossip is idle, often sensational and groundless talk about others. We have all experienced it; either we've heard it, participated in it at one time or another or been the object of gossip. Gossip in the workplace is about as common as office birthday collections. But workplace gossip causes a great deal of harm and impacts both the individuals involved and the organization as a whole. Gossiping is a waste of time and impacts productivity. It diminishes staff morale, cultivates an environment that eats away at trust, and drives a wedge among employees. People's feelings get hurt as a result of gossip and it can often ruin an individual's reputation.
Resisting gossip can be challenging. For starters, people are unconscious about the types of conversations they are having at work and may not notice when they are gossiping. Take responsibility for your conversations at work and monitor yourself. You can ask yourself these questions before you engage in any type of discussion with a coworker that might be construed as gossip.
-- Is What I am about to say true?
-- Is it harmless?
-- Is it necessary?
-- How would I feel?
-- How am I going to feel later?
-- Does gossiping honor my values?
It's easy to get sucked in to the gossip loop, and often challenging to resist. If you want to put a stop to gossip and avoid getting involved in this hurtful and destructive behavior, just say no to gossip and make a decision to not participate. This will require some discipline on your part. When coworkers try to pull you in to the gossip, let them know immediately that you aren't interested in engaging in this type of discussion. You don't have to be critical or judgmental, just clear about where you stand with gossip. Let them know your feelings of uneasiness in regards to talking about something or someone when you don't have all the facts, and excuse yourself from the conversation.
When you model this behavior it serves several purposes. It will send a message to the gossipers that what they are doing is not acceptable. Others who feel the same way you do will be more likely to follow suit and not become involved with the gossip, thus taking away the audience. And lastly, you will feel good that you have said no to something that wastes time and could cause harm.
When You Witness Gossip
-- Share your Feelings about Gossip
-- Excuse Yourself from the Conversation
-- Walk Away from the Gossiper