Fostering relationships with co-workers is essential, but your professional life is most secure if you stay away from office gossip.
Don’t let workplace socializing spill over into demoralizing gossip or impair your ability to get your job done and get ahead. Gossip is a downward spiral that can lead to diminished productivity, resentment, shattered morale and damaged trust. Use the following tips to manage gossip in your workplace.
Recognize it for what it is.
Since you both know the same person, a gossiper typically assumes you’ll want to connect on some level in sharing your feelings about them. They forget that you left that mindset back in high school.
- Shift the conversation to something else you have in common. It may be a hobby, a sports team or a favorite local restaurant.
Stay away from it.
Successful people withdraw completely from office gossip. Prove that you’re the bigger person, and beat a wide path around it.
- Gracefully remove yourself from the conversation. This may mean taking breaks or lunch at a different time than the gossip does. Or, come up with an excuse, such as “I have to make a quick call before the meeting begins.”
- Train yourself to recognize key words and topics that have the potential to be harmful. These could include criminal activities, alcoholism, addiction, infidelity, sexuality, or anything that reveals otherwise confidential medical, work or personal information.
Be direct in confronting it.
Politely and directly confront gossips by asking, in a professional fashion, “Why are you telling me this?” When you address what the gossip is doing – head on – you take some of the fun out of it. As a result, it’s more likely to go away before any serious damage is done.
Don’t fall victim to it.
- Always be cautious in what you tell others about yourself, your personal life, and your activities – whether they involve co-workers or not.
- Learn to take everything you hear about others with a grain of salt, regardless of the source. Office gossip is likely third-hand, or worse. Various people have put their spin on it, embellishing the original story and further removing it from the truth.
Make it work for you.
You should always use discretion and avoid office gossip. But like every rule, there are exceptions. If you approach it as a conduit of news and information, then some gossip may have potential benefits. However, you still should proceed with caution.
You may be able to use certain items to learn about:
- The company: For instance, you may catch word of upcoming projects that interest you.
- Bosses or executives: You could learn more about their personality traits or preferences. This may help you to better relate to them.
Or, you may be able to use certain “water cooler conversations” to drop hints about a personal achievement that you’re proud of, so perhaps it will reach the right ears. Just remember, without any exception, subtlety is the key.
For additional tips and resources as you plot the course of your professional career, check out our candidate resource center or contact CPS Recruitment at (315) 457-2500 today.