Read Part One Here
- The Newbie. When you’re first hired, gossipers will take stock of your appearance, demeanor and position within the company to determine your gossip threshold. This is the time to establish clear boundaries.You have four response options: Stop them before they share, and tell them you don’t want to participate in gossip.
- Stop them before they share, and tell them you don’t want to participate in gossip.
- Listen, but don’t say anything.
- Listen and ask questions; then, respond positively, negatively or neutrally.
- Listen and share what you hear with others, asking them what they think.
Whenever possible, try to interact with gossipers in a neutral environment, with other coworkers present. Keep your position on a topic as impartial as possible.
Consider throwing gossipers’ questions back at them, with the preface: “I really don’t know. What do you think?”
Usually, newbie gossip is temporary. But if gossipers succeed in gaining your ear, you can be sure they’ll take you to the next levels.
|2.||The Stick-in-the-Mud. As a non-gossiper, you could eventually become classified as a “kiss-ass” or “company man.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you don’t want to be viewed as yes-man/woman in relation to your boss.|
When gossip is flung in your direction, determine who instigated it and why. You can then go to the source and ask questions before rumors spread and do more damage.
Gossipers hate being confronted and pressed for details, especially when you have a direct line of communication to the boss. They don’t want their accusations to be repeated, nor be caught in a lie.
|3.||The Sponge. If you soak up everyone’s gossip, you develop a tolerance to it. You may believe that listening doesn’t make you a participant, but gossipers are using you as their landfill.|
In truth, the act of listening-even if you don’t share and spread rumors-encourages the gossipers to continue. They assume you want to hear what they have to say and tacitly approve of their actions. In short, there’s no such thing as innocent listening.
|4.||The Gossiper-in-Training. Gossipers develop “students” who soar past the level of sponge and become card-carrying members of the gossip club. If you find yourself in this position, it’s difficult to reverse.|
Consequently, coworkers and colleagues will be on their guard when sharing information with you. As time passes, you will begin to gossip without even knowing you’ve become a full-fledged gossiper.
|5.||The Neutralizer. Non-gossipers should strive to attain neutralizer status, which means you can deflect gossip and pacify others by remaining calm and nonjudgmental. Neutralizers distinguish themselves among their peers via their Teflon-like coating, which repels gossip. People may still try to co-opt you into gossiping, but your consistent deflection will spoil their fun.|
Wisely choose opportunities to speak. Your employer and coworkers will learn to respect your opinion on matters that count.
Also understand that office gossip is so commonplace that it can be hard to notice. Some of it may occasionally be positive, which allows confidential information and conjecture to become an accepted part of everyday life.
Once this happens, you may forget that gossip is inherently harmful and unproductive-a behavior that can have a profound effect on workplace energy and morale. Employees who work in a culture of gossip may feel insecure and threatened by those who revel in it.
Gossip can destroy one’s sense of community, thus inhibiting any potential for teamwork. And when out-of-control gossip includes disparaging remarks about gender, race or religion, it can violate diversity standards and be grounds for termination.
It takes courage to stand up and say “no” to gossip. People are often reluctant to speak up, fearing they’ll be labeled a stick-in-the-mud. But when you have the courage to do the right thing, your positive approach can snowball and encourage others to help extinguish gossip.