Gossip in the Workplace

What is gossip?

There are two reasons for sharing social information. One is that the exchange of useful information helps us survive and prosper. In early years, it would have increased your chance of survival if you had an ability to learn useful information such as where the rains are falling, where the food is abundant and where the predators are. The second is to establish alliances within our group; to determine the people we trust and those that we need be careful with.

Negative Consequences of Gossip Here are some negative consequences to consider about workplace gossip:

  • Gossip damages trust and morale.
  • Interferes with productivity and efficiency.
  • Truths or assumptions are more likely to be distorted.
  • Privacy may be violated.
  • Hurt feelings and damaged reputations.
  • Decreased employee satisfaction.
  • Employee may be passed up for a promotion due to unprofessional behavior associated with gossip.

How to Avoid Gossip:

You may have decided that you don’t want to participate in gossip, but aren’t sure how to get out of the situation. Here are some ideas that may help.

  • Be honest about your thoughts and feelings.
  • Focus on yourself. Use “I” statements when communicating.
  • Remember KISS. “Keep it Simple Silly” when confronting the behavior
  • It’s okay to leave the room. If it’s only two people in the conversation, it’s impossible for the other to keep going without you.

Here are some examples of what to say in an uncomfortable gossip situation:

I have to be honest, I don’t think that talking about the problems that ______ is having behind her/his back is going to help her/him.”

“I am uncomfortable discussing this and I think it’s inappropriate. I know that my feelings would be hurt if I knew my friends (co-workers) were talking about my personal problems and spreading things around.”