You hear your name being whispered. You hear laughter following. Then when you walk into a room, everyone stops talking. Webster’s Dictionary defines gossip as “such talk” or “one who chatters idly about others.” How many times have you been talked about or you’ve talked about someone else? In the workplace, it can create barriers, stir negativity, and lead to destruction.
If you’re entering the workforce for the first time, beware of the ugly beast known as gossip. It can be negative, hurtful, and embarrassing for everyone involved. It can also create conflict in the workplace, especially if you and your co-workers are in close proximity all day. To help you avoid the office drama, here are some tips on how to stay away from the rumor grapevine.
Focus on your work. You have a job to do at work. If you stay focused on your tasks, you won’t have time to participate in negative chatter. If your co-workers see you’re busy, they’ll be less likely to ask you to partake in their chit-chat. If they try to include you in the conversation, let them know you don’t feel comfortable and to exclude you from the conversation. If someone starts gossiping around you, make a choice to walk away from the conversation and don’t participate.
Keep your personal and professional life separate. It’s important to build relationships with your co-workers because doing so helps you function better as a team. But, be sure to keep your conversations professional in nature. If you tell them too much about your personal life, you could be giving individuals a reason to gossip about you. Be careful what you share and who you share information with. This also applies to social profiles such as Facebook. If you share information on your online profile that you don’t want your co-workers to see, control your privacy settings, create a professional page, or make it a policy to not add co-workers to your Facebook account.
Choose friends carefully. When you spend eight hours a day at work, it’s easy to form friendships with your co-workers. If you hang out outside of work, be careful not to talk about the workplace or other co-workers. If so, word could get back to your office and people could get upset.
Stop gossip in its tracks. The best way to end negative conversation is to say something nice about the person being talked about. Being positive is a great tool for combating negativity. A kind word can end the fun that gossips have and can stop them in their tracks – kindness doesn’t provide fuel to the fire.
At some point in time, everyone has partaken in gossip. It's damaging and never the solution to a problem. It’s better just to stop it before it gets out of control. But, if gets to a point where it is damaging to those involved, let your supervisor know. It’s sometimes tough to be the positive one, but it’s well worth the effort and is a true testament to your character, maturity, attitude, and leadership ability.