He Said What? Avoiding and Recovering From Office Gossip

Gossip_May2011_web In a work environment, no matter how many employees there are, gossip is most likely going to occur. According to the American Psychological Association gossip can be “undeniably aversive and problematic,” for individuals. Accepting the fact that gossip will happen occasionally, it is important to know how to avoid it and what to do if it happens to you.

Turn the other cheek.
The best advice regarding office gossip is simple – don’t do it. Gossip leads to a multitude of problems, including distractions, hurt feelings, and even damaged relationships. When you hear co-workers discussing another individual’s personal or professional business, avoid joining in. Although you may be tempted to include yourself in the conversation, avoiding it entirely will help you steer clear of any further problems caused by the situation. The golden rule applies perfectly to this scenario – treat others as you would want to be treated. If you don’t appreciate your co-workers gossiping about you, don’t gossip about your co-workers.

Respond graciously.
If the time comes when you hear of others gossiping about you, respond with maturity. Brushing the situation under the rug will most likely lead to unresolved resentment and an uncomfortable workplace. If you choose to address the situation instead, approach the offending co-worker in a private setting and gently explain your thoughts and feelings on the situation. Due to the delicacy of the situation, approach your peer gently to avoid playing the blame game and creating further workplace problems. By addressing your frustrations calmly and maturely, you will help prevent further inappropriate discussions and keep the situation from escalating.

If for some reason your gracious response to the office gossip is not received well, keep calm and find support from those above you. Seek guidance from a manager, supervisor, or the HR Department within the company to find ways to resolve the issue. Just be sure your reinforcement doesn’t turn into someone you can gossip with.

Being the victim of gossip is never fun, especially at work where it involves your professional peers. Knowing the potential hurt it may cause you and your reputation, be sure to avoid it when you can spare your co-workers the same frustrations. In the end, your team members will respect your decision to maintain professional conversation far more than your knowledge of the inner office gossip.

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