How to avoid the ubiquitous risk of workplace gossip

How to avoid the ubiquitous risk of workplace gossip

Avoid engaging with gossiping colleagues, while managing not to alienate them

 

If you want to avoid workplace gossip, try just walking away: Voting with your feet can be a simple but effective tactic.

If you want to avoid workplace gossip, try just walking away: Voting with your feet can be a simple but effective tactic.

 

 

Workplace gossip is common as grass; it takes many forms and grows just about everywhere. But how do you avoid it?

Here are some practical suggestions that can help you “say no to gossip” in a way that sets a good example without needlessly alienating others.

1. Just walk away: Voting with your feet can be a simple but effective tactic. “I’ve got a tight deadline this afternoon for that board report, no time to chat right now.”

You’ve sent a quick clear message and you’re gone.

2. Change the subject: If you do decide to stay around and join the conversation, move it in a direction you’re more comfortable with – changing the focus to company business rather than personal business.

3. Emphasise the positive: If it seems reasonable, you can continue discussing the same players but in a different light. “Gee, that doesn’t sound to me at all like Max. I just saw him Tuesday and he was giving a terrific presentation on market share to our sales team.”

4. Don’t overreact: It also helps to keep matters in perspective. I see office gossip less as a cancer than as a common cold. Given this view, one reaction to avoid is overreaction. No need to make more of it than needs to be made: “I can’t believe you are gossiping about Amithi and Connor again when sales are down 87 per cent this quarter!”

– Copyright Harvard Business Review 2016

 

Previously published in The Irish Times.

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