Pssst. Come closer. I have something to tell you. (Talking in a hushed and quiet voice.)
Did you see Daniel today? He is over there sitting at his desk not really doing anything…again. It makes me so mad when I see him, because he never does anything. And, what about Lucy? Has anyone ever told her that her hairstyle went out of fashion in the 80s? Really, does she think that’s cute? I heard Bethany has the hots for Carlos, have you heard that? I can’t imagine that! What is she thinking? Yeah, that’s nothing. You know that big project we just won? I heard Stephan got credit for working on that and, I swear, he didn’t do a thing on that. Not one little thing. They will never learn. I can’t stand it when…
Sound familiar? Too familiar? When is the last time you found yourself in a conversation that sounded something similar to this one? Or, when is the last time you heard people engaged in similar (or even worse!) discussions in the workplace?
Gossips are everywhere, so it is no surprise that we find them in the office, too. The trouble is, in the workplace, this behavior is extra dangerous and destructive. Reputations can be damaged, careers pulled off track, and projects delayed or even cancelled, the list goes on and on. And, I am talking about both the subject of the discussion and the gossipers!
Here are a few suggestions to think about next time you are approached “by the watercooler”…
1) Own your own behavior. If you find yourself speaking in negative terms with your friends, think about what damage you might be doing. Further, if you are expressing bad feelings to your peers that you have never brought forward to management, I can assure you that you are not helping to solve the problem – you are making it worse.
2) Assume positive intent. Recognize that you might not be the expert on why or how someone is performing their work. If you have a concern, raise it to management in a positive manner. And, always approach interpersonal relationships while assuming positive intent.
3) Imagine if it was you. What if you heard the exact conversation you were having from someone else, but it was about you? How would you feel? Would you wish someone would have told you directly and personally of the concern?
4) Consider the source. Maybe the information is confidential and really has no place being shared anyway. I have seen a few careers come to a screeching halt for the “innocent gossip” that became an inappropriate release of confidential information.
5) Bring your concerns forward. If you have a concern, real or perceived, bring your concern forward. I always recommend addressing a personal concern directly with the person first. Give them a chance to understand your concern and address it. Then, if it is not resolved, you may need to involve either your manager or their manager. But, give them a chance…wouldn’t you want someone to tell you?
In the end, I think gossipers forget that no one likes to be gossiped about! And, truthfully, when we think about it, people don’t trust a gossiper either. So, if you see or hear gossip in the office, call them on it…nicely!
Follw me on Twitter @alruthHR