The office rumor mill, there is no getting around it. It has and will always exist, regardless of whether you work for a small, midsize or global corporation. But it is critical to know when it moves from harmless water cooler conversations into something more malicious.
A pervasive gossip culture creates negative energy at work, unnecessary distraction and stops co-workers from becoming a united team – which ultimately impacts productivity and brings down morale. These 4 tips will help you to stay away from the gossip negativity.
1. Walk away
When the office gossip heads into your direction, the simplest solution is to dodge away. Try to stay away from people known to indulge in idle gossiping. While it is impossible to completely avoid a person you work with, you may find yourself guilty of association if you are constantly seen in the company of the usual gossip suspects. Excuse yourself by citing urgent work obligations. After all, you are at work, so just say, “I really have a deadline to meet today.” No one can object to that reasoning.
2. Do not get involved
The first and most important thing to remember is to not indulge in gossip yourself. No matter how tempting and juicy the tales are, refrain and stay on a clear course. In situations where you can’t simply walk away like at lunches or meetings, the simple act of not responding gives your colleagues the idea that you are not interested to engage in hearsay. If one does not partake in gossip, it will be difficult for other people to spread what one has said.
3. Change the subject
Start noticing gossip openings and instead of furthering the topic, change the tone and make it a point to say positive things. Having someone in the team who has an energised, upbeat attitude is an asset to morale and rarely goes unnoticed by management. There is such a thing as positive gossip, so steer the conversation toward a happier topic, such as the birth of a coworker’s baby or perhaps something else that you have in common, such as a mutual interest in tennis. If casual chats are not your forte, then check out these small talk tips.
4. Address and resolve the issue
What happens when the conversation stops when you enter the room? Or when you notice your colleagues shooting sidelong glances as you pass them? It would be nice if situations like these never happen, but sometimes there is quite a possibility that you are the subject of the conversation. If someone in your office has been spreading rumours about you, directly address the originator of the news in private and try to resolve the issue professionally. It might seem like an uncomfortable work conversation to have, but necessary at this point.Try not to be hostile or aggressive, but let him or her know that you’re aware of what’s been said and that you’d like to find a solution. Tactfully demonstrate how your colleague’s behavior is affecting both parties and most people will apologise and remember your direct confrontation the next time they decide to gossip about you.