Getting Around Negative Gossip at Work

You’re proud of the work you put in while on the job. But one day you walk by the breakroom and hear a co-worker say you frequently miss deadlines, come into work late, or steal their ideas for presentations.

Office gossip can be incredibly demoralizing, especially if you’re new on the job. Someone is spreading lies about you, but it’s their word against yours; is there really anything you can do about it?

Luckily, there are multiple things you can do to escape the poisonous clutches of office gossip.

  1. Consider the Source

True, negative gossip can ruin a career. Before you really start to stress yourself out, think about who started the rumor. Are they credible? Or are they generally known for stretching the truth? If they’re the sort to gossip about everyone to draw attention away from their own less-than-stellar work, you don’t need to be concerned. It might be best to ignore the gossip since nobody else is going to believe it anyway.

  1. Confront the Gossiper

You don’t want to be a snitch, and you and your co-worker are both adults. So before going to a manager, talk to your co-worker about their behavior. Choose a secluded location, like an empty meeting room. Tell them what you heard them say and how it made you feel and see how they react. It might be that there really is something about the way you work that impacts them negatively, something you didn’t realize because you just don’t know how their job functions. Or perhaps they had a bad day and vented about their frustration with you as an unfortunate casualty. Hopefully a frank discussion can put an end to the issue. However, if you let them know how you feel and their gossiping behavior continues, it’s time to bring the issue to your manager.

  1. Talk to Your Manager

When speaking to your manager, try to keep emotion out of it. Simply detail exactly what your co-worker said and supply witnesses if you can. You want this to be a fact-based discussion about your co-worker’s behavior, not an emotional testimonial to their bad character. Create an action plan with your manager about what will be done going forward, such as a meeting with the co-worker and their manager, or a discussion between your managers. If you and the problem co-worker have the same manager, all three of you can meet to talk about next steps.

Gossip is unfortunately a part of every office. However, the way you respond could make or break your career.

Have you ever been the target of office gossip? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!

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