If you’ve never worked in an office, you may be surprised to find out that some of them feel like a return to high school. The cliques, the rumors, and gossip suddenly become a problem again. “I thought we were past this!” you may scream internally, but you would be wrong. So how can we finally take down gossipers once and for all?
This is a subject that hits pretty close to home for me. In one of my previous positions, gossiping was part of the job. Not only that, but it was often instigated by the owner of the company. Being that my desk was at the center of the office, I would have numerous people on a daily basis stop by to complain to me about our coworkers. If they weren’t gossiping directly to me, they were leaning against my desk, talking about other people to each other. It felt wrong but at the same time, it also felt like if you wanted to fit in, you’d better start yapping away with them or you’ll be the next target (though I’m sure everyone was a target anyway.) This type of work environment was a nightmare for me. I dreaded work and my productivity was obviously affected by all the chatter. So what steps can we take to finally destroy this tumor that grows in most office environments? How can workers and managers finally take down the gossip mill? Monster published an article that provided some amazing tips that everyone should put to use today!
Address the Instigator
“The employee should address the situation in a non-confrontational way with the person that is at the root of the gossiping. Talk to the gossiper about any potential issues and ask them to not talk any further about them.”
Trust me, I’m aware that this is a lot simpler than it really is to actually confront someone. If it makes you uncomfortable to say something face-to-face, write an email or a letter to stick in their office mailbox. It’s really important to take this step because the gossiper needs to know that they’ve been found out and that their actions are directly affecting you.
Give the Gossiper a Way to Save Face
Another way to go about this in the least non-confrontational way is to give them a way out. Don’t come on strong and start a riot in the kitchen, even though that would be super satisfying. Instead, try something like this:
“Maintain a sense of humor as you confront the gossiper. ‘I heard the craziest thing’” can be a lighthearted way of opening the confrontation. Or you can try asking “‘How do you think someone could get that impression?’” to see what the gossiper might have to say.”
Think About It
Now is the time for some self-reflection. While I’m not condoning talking behind people’s backs, sometimes there is a legit reason why people started the conversation at all.
“As we all know, perception is reality, and how others see you affects their desire to work with you and give you opportunities.”
You may not have even been aware of it, but it’s possible you were rubbing some of your coworkers the wrong way. While it’s still hurtful to find this out, use this to your advantage!
There is absolutely zero shame in heading into HR to sit down and report someone you work with. I think a lot of people are almost afraid to, like no one will believe them or they don’t want to seem like a tattletale. Look at it this way, if you don’t speak up now, you’ll end up having to just sit and deal with it. If you have a disappointing meeting with HR about it or something negative comes from it, at least you put the effort in to try.