How to Overcome Workplace Gossip

by Melody Dawn

Gossip can spread like wildfire in a work environment. If you've ever held a job, chances are you have run into someone who enjoyed spreading the newest rumor about a co-worker or someone in management. This destructive behavior can lead to bad feelings among colleagues, low morale and adversely affect productivity. According to the "TechRepublic," an online trade publication for IT professionals, gossip spreads in a workplace as the result of organization problems or a poor management style. It is best to take control of the situation the minute gossip occurs to prevent it from getting out of hand.

Don't invite, spread or tolerate gossip

Set an example for your employees. Avoid gossiping about your boss or your peers. Show respect to those above you even if you do not agree with them. Do not tolerate gossip. (Ref 1)

If you're in management, listen to your employees when they have a complaint or an issue. Employees will be less likely to complain to others about things that aren’t going as planned if they know they can count on you. (Ref 1)

Address issues when you know they will occur. For example, if you are aware of a problem with financial statements that could affect bonuses, let employees know ahead of time. They will appreciate the advance notice and there may be less gossip. (ref 1)

Take action against those who start gossip. Confront the troublemakers immediately and let them know that the workplace is not the place for gossip. Set and enforce disciplinary procedures, including written warnings and time off without pay, for those who start rumors.

For employees

Avoid gossiping about others. Change the subject if someone is spreading rumors. Ask about that person’s children or a particular project that they might be working on. Chances are, they might not even realize you changed the subject. (ref 2)

Approach your supervisor when you hear gossip in the workplace that could affect your job. For example, if someone is spreading rumors that you took credit for something you did not do, it is best to let your boss know before it gets back to him from someone else. (ref 3)

Act professionally while you are on the job. Complete your tasks on time and always maintain a positive attitude. Your boss will dismiss rumors if you are working hard and your performance is above reproach. (ref 3)

Avoid sharing information about your private life with co-workers. Those who enjoy spreading gossip often try to become friends with everyone. According to CNN, never trust someone who likes to gossip. (ref 2)

Verify Information if you do hear a rumor. Find out all of the facts about the rumor before you jump to any conclusions. Find out both sides of the story. (ref 1)

Find solutions. If co-workers are gossiping about problems at work, attempt to steer the conversation toward a solution -- instead of joining in on the complaints. When people are working together to solve issues they will have less time to complain. (ref 1)

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Melody Dawn has been writing business articles and blogs since 2004. Her work has appeared in the "Gainesville Times," "Player's Press" and "USA Today." She is also skilled in writing product descriptions and marketing materials. Dawn holds a Master of Business from Brenau University.

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