Avoid Gossip in the Office

Edited by Christine dela Cruz, Anonymous, Lynn, Doug Collins and 4 others

Office politics can either be healthy or downright dirty. The workplace has become a war zone for many offices because of gossiping. Gossiping is said to be a normal human behavior which can even provide functional advantages to an individual or a company. The only way that gossip can be considered a health hazard is when the gossip is targeted towards a certain individual and if it breeds contempt and disrupts working relationships. Do you get bothered by office colleagues who seem to want to spend all their time discussing other people's lives? Are you tired of people making up stories about others? Do you believe that a good workplace is one that is free from gossips and politics? It has been reiterated over and over again that a chain or an organization for that matter is only as good as its weakest link. A team of working individuals can either plummet the company towards incredible heights or pull and shove it to the brink of failure because of unproductive and negative gossiping. Indeed, it is good to foster a more favorable workplace, instead of tolerating habits of gossiping especially during crunch time. Office politics could be a familiar culture that breeds competition and productivity which is relatively healthy however office gossip or grapevine can bring about a negative culture that evades company goals and team building efforts.

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Effects of Gossip at the Workplace

  1. 1
    It affects team work.
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    Gossips create bad blood between people and this causes them not to be able to coordinate their work accordingly in a productive fashion. It creates tension between or amongst individuals which affects how they work together in a team. More so, it puts too much strain on relationships among co-workers that it becomes impossible to achieve anything and thus affects generally all the other facets of the company. Manpower is deemed to be the greatest resource at which must be harnessed and developed to its fullest. Gossip, among all other faulty circuits can break the chain that effectively holds an organization intact. The ability to work collaboratively in a team is vital to company success. If anyone seems to be badmouthing another then it is very unlikely that a team can achieve anything.
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  2. 2
    It decreases trust among colleagues.
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    When there is continuous gossip in the workplace, this causes people to be suspicious of each other all the time
    .
    They communicate with doubts and this is not healthy for overall collaboration. With this kind of culture, people tend to hide information or even sabotage or steal another person's data in order to get ahead of the pack. You cannot possibly win and move forward in a company wherein people are out to destroy you or are literally and figuratively predicting your failure. The company will never benefit in employees or managers that are not working collaboratively with a common goal in mind. When people are trying to outrun each other in a destructive pace, the whole organization is set to crumble. However possible can anyone achieve success without a network or a team of people to back you up? Trust and confidence among colleagues is crucial for people to work in synergy and for minds and efforts to converge in one productive output.
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  3. 3
    It distracts people from work.
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    Gossips can easily make people upset and this pulls their mind away from their work. Everything becomes a matter of both personal and professional rivalry that it hampers overall productivity in the workplace. These gossipers can also be perceived as bullies and self-centered immature individuals who find great pleasure in creating dilemma and disruptions in their co-worker's lives. People tend to focus on discussions that can are oftentimes a waste of time and resources instead of working on ways to push the company goals forward.
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  4. 4
    Adds up to psychological stress.
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    You eat and breathe stress in the workplace. It is inevitable especially in a highly competitive and evolving platform. Oftentimes, in the right perspective, some degree of stress can bring about positive outcome in the way people perform in the workplace. It gives that steady boost of adrenaline rush that pushes one to its core of efficiency in ensuring maximum productive efforts each time. However, people deal and cope with stress in different ways. While some people are driven to meet and exceed company expectations, some are hardly ever able to cope and even become inefficient in the performance of their tasks. There are varied stressors in the workplace and even at home which can affect and predict how people perform. The grueling demands at work, pressure to beat deadlines, office politics, and gossiping can all add up to the stressors that affect the work environment and dynamics of an organization. All of these can bring about emotional, mental, and psychological stress to people and can be a lot to bear for some.
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  5. 5
    Lowers self-esteem of employees.
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    If you are aware that people are spreading rumors against you, your overall work productivity could be hampered
    .
    Some people can deal effectively with negative gossip and perceive it as a challenge and not a roadblock to success. However, more employees are unable to effectively deal with gossiping and backstabbing which results to inefficiency and even inability to meet the demands of day-to-day work. One of the damaging effects of office gossiping is that employees can suffer from a low morale and damaged self-esteem. In fact, the destructive effects of gossiping to an individual can go beyond the office walls as it has been found to affect the overall lifestyle and temperament of an individual.
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  6. 6
    Breeds unprofessionalism.
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    Office gossiping is ruthless and can wreak havoc even in a highly reputable company. Negativity is very contagious and toxic which can cross the line heavily between productive criticism and pure gossip. There is no room for mediocrity and even gossiping in the corporate scenario when everyone is supposed to be concentrating on getting work done. It's definitely a rat race in the corporate staircase where everyone pushes themselves to deliver 101% effort each time. In the modern workplace setting, speed becomes the barometer of success alongside delivery of efficient results. This is the new ballgame or everything else topples over. It's not just about the hard work but it's all about providing collaborative results at the fastest possible rate. Gossiping breeds unprofessionalism in the workplace and can direly affect how people work with each other.
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  7. 7
    Depletes company resources.
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    It's not about confronting immature mongering in the office as gossiping can actually become catastrophic in terms of costs
    .
    Lawsuits and employee or managerial inefficiency as well as turnover or liability predicaments can relatively deplete company resources at a certain point. Gossiping is more than a "psychological warfare" or messing up with other people's minds as it can actually bring down an empire to rut because of financial liabilities and damages. The victims of negative gossips can actually file charges in court due to lack of protection against such abusers specifically if one is being singled out because of ethnicity, religion, gender, or any other physical attributes that can constitute certain biases in opinion.
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  8. 8
    It becomes a hazard to life, limb, and property.
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    There are times that what you regard as just a harmless gossip could actually turn out destructive and even deadly
    .
    Some gossips which are usually targeted on a certain individual or group of people can aggravate to bullying, harassment, or even infliction of physical violence. The safety, health, and well-being of the victim of these malicious gossips are put at stake. Lawsuits can even emerge as this is clearly a human rights violation.
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How to Avoid Gossips in the Office

If you believe gossips are nothing but useless distractions in the office, you must follow these rules for your sake and others:

  1. 1
    Be more sensitive in your words and actions.
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    Sometimes, you may not realize it, but you might be saying things to others that could be perceived as a form of gossip
    .
    Keep in mind that if you have nothing nice to say, it might be best to just keep it to yourself. You can avoid spreading any libelous remarks or rumors by not initiating any conversation about it. Less is definitely more when it comes to office politics. It is better to think before you even say a word about anything that does not concern office tasks or projects. If you value your privacy then you must lead by example and do not intrude in other people's lives.
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  2. 2
    Do not join in discussions about others that are not constructive or positive.
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    If you do not want to be the subject of such types of discussions in the future, then do not join them. Gossip will not occur if there is no audience. The more people participate in gossiping, the bigger it gets. It's true that whenever there's smoke, there's fire. You should not fuel the flame by conforming to manipulative gossips instead you must think of ways to pacify them. Participating in intellectual discussions that could help the company is the best route to divert your mental energies than engaging in unnecessary banters or trash talk. It is better to blow off your steam using productive channels rather than gossiping which can ruin reputations of people and slow down company output. There are so many things that you can achieve by getting your head together on something that can reap advantages for yourself and the company rather than engaging in self-destructive gossips.
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  3. 3
    Maintain a boundary between your personal and professional life.
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    Gossip often arises when personal matters such as family, romantic relationships, personal money matters, and the like are brought to the office. If you focus on your work alone and leave all irrelevant matters at home, there is less likelihood that gossip about you will start. The key to doing that is to set your boundaries straight when it comes to work and personal life. It is a normal trend in socialization that you develop close friendships with certain colleagues. In fact, building good relationships with co-workers is beneficial to team productivity which is why this is definitely encouraged in any organization. However, the conflict of interest happens when the line between professional and personal relationship diminish and you tend to mix up work with play. You must always keep in mind that the moment you clock in for work, that is where your professional side begins. You are paid by the millisecond of work and output that you put in and you definitely have to make it count. It's not a robotic scenario as you are still definitely working with people despite the high-end technology; but a healthy, robust, and cooperative interaction is needed to ensure that optimum productivity is met. You can reserve those playful energies after office hours.
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  4. 4
    Act professionally at all times.
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    A professional person will not dwell on matters that are not supposed to be meddled with. If it's someone else's business, then you should have nothing to do with it. There are certain set of rules and code of conduct that must be followed in every organization. If you want a steady climb on the corporate pyramid then you need to play fair, stay grounded yet focused, perform beyond work expectations, and be an effective team player. Professional individuals are very competitive and ambitious yet they are able to deal with stressors effectively and do not participate or even tolerate office gossiping.
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  5. 5
    Keep yourself busy and limit conversations and interactions to only matters that are relevant to your work.
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    When you do this, you will notice that you actually become more productive, and that is enough to consume your time
    .
    If you are busy, more than likely, you will not have time to deal with unimportant matters such as gossip. Idle hands make it highly suitable for gossiping. Choose people who can be your role models or mentors for success. Go with people who talk about theories, facts, and events rather than those who meddle with issues about the private lives of the people around them. Your potential for growth is maximized exponentially when you continue to immerse and expose yourself to productive endeavors.
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  6. 6
    Avoid comparing yourself to others, whether in a positive or negative light, whether or not you are better than others.
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    Jealousy or envy is one of the most common foundations of gossip
    .
    When a person is envious of someone else, he or she tends to focus on the negatives to cover up the good things he or she is jealous of. When these are discussed with another envious person, that creates the spark of further gossip. Every individual has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Nothing is ever achieved with allowing the green-eyed monster to run the show because you only end up a sour loser if you decide to bully or attempt to ruin a co-worker's reputation by resorting to negative gossips.
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  7. 7
    Encourage positive gossip rather than negative gossip.
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    Gossip is not entirely wrong especially when you have the right motives to go along with it. There are certain ramifications that come with spreading negative gossip as you contribute in destroying a colleague's reputation. Even if you are just at the receiving end of the gossip, you have the same accountability if you continue to talk about negative rumors with other office staff. This is even more disappointing if a superior or manager initiates negative gossip in the break room or even during office hours. Positive gossip pertains to spreading good news or something that would motivate and inspire employees to work better. It could be an honest messenger who returned a lost wallet, a recent innovation in company strategies, or a distinction given to an exemplary employee.You must definitely take the lead and "walk the talk" if you want your subordinates to follow through what you have started. Emulate positivity and everything will surely fall into place.Changing the culture of an organization may be hard at first especially if this has been going on for years but it is certainly doable and can yield beneficial results for the company.
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  8. 8
    Do not worry too much about what other people think of you.
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    The opinion of other people matters but what is more important is the opinion of the people closest to you. Fact still remains that there is no way to please everybody. No matter what you do, people will always have something to say (whether it's good or bad). There are brats in the workplace just as much as there are bullies in school. It's a pandemic as gossipers are virtually everywhere. People who are fond of gossiping will continue to gossip no matter how you adjust to things. There is nothing you can do to change how other people think. The only thing that you have direct control of is yourself. You can change how things go by directly initiating change in your organization. Do not stress yourself everyday getting paranoid of how other people perceive you at work. Perform your best at work and prod yourself to do more. Stretch yourself further by adding extra effort in daily work. Arrive a few minutes earlier in meetings or commit less yet aim to over deliver on assigned tasks. You will find out soon enough that confidence is all about knowing yourself better than any opinionated self-absorbed individuals who deliver nothing productive but endless ranting in the office. Gossipers often form cliques that target top-performing individuals or competent and promising newbies. Aim to go with like-minded individuals who are serious with their jobs and can be trusted. Play it by ear and do not go by the popular choice alone, but instead go for what is just and reasonable for the majority of individuals.
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  9. 9
    Resolve conflicts and stop negative gossiping right away.
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    If you are the manager or officer-in-charge (OIC), you can communicate your concerns about negative gossiping by allocating time to talk about it in meetings. Make it clear that the company do not tolerate any form of abuse such as spreading rumors in and around the office. Those who are found to be guilty of malicious activities like gossiping should be reprimanded and warned that it could eventually lead to termination or layoff. Certain code of behavior and conduct must be thoroughly discussed in the meeting which also includes the basis for promotion or even layoff. Top-notch performance and good work ethics must always be rewarded by certain incentives, commendations, or promotion. This shows that the company greatly uphold certain values in their manpower and that hard work, determination, and good will definitely pays off. It is important to foster and model camaraderie in the workplace. It would be helpful to conduct routine evaluation, counseling, training or enrichment sessions, and team building activities that can strengthen working relationships with colleagues and superiors. No tenacious or rude gossip can ever permeate into a company that exhibits a supportive and collaborative working environment. There will always be setbacks or roadblocks but with the right controls and adjustment, everything is bound to run smoothly in time.
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Questions and Answers

What should a girl do to stop gossip in the office?

The way this one woman talks about me is causing problems with my coworkers and boss.. I have tried: Telling her to shut up but she did not take it well. I think it was caused by: I am in line for a promotion and she is not so I think she is gossiping about me because she is jealous.

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There is nothing bad in people interested in each other and sharing their opinions. However, during conversations, the information may be intentionally distorted. By recounting the stories your coworker may be just entertaining herself watching the reaction of people around her (including you). She may also pursue her own goals with by bruiting about you, and, perhaps, she thinks that she is as good a professional as you.

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First, you have to find a way to react to the gossip. You must understand that every person has an independent opinion about you, and he or she may ask you a direct question if he or she is in doubt. Be ready to parry gossips calmly and respectfully if you are being asked directly about them. Gossips cannot be stopped as the process is not a part of your personality: be calm and do not be upset about it, as the woman is probably expecting you to fail at your tasks as your mood is disrupted. This is her way of manipulating you: if you show an emotional response, then the goal will have been achieved. Do not react to the gossips, and they will diminish. Do not try to justify yourself and tell everyone that something is untrue. In practice, focusing on rumors about yourself is showing your weakness, which causes a vicious circle of spreading more negative rumors about you.

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Secondly, Boost Your Self Confidence. You do not have to overdo it though. It just has to be more stable. Professional or friendly counselling can help to evaluate and understand yourself too. Ask a professional or your friend or relative about your strongest points and what you should work on. No gossip will make you vulnerable then.

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Categories : Communications & Education

Recent edits by: Donna, Alma, Marian Raquel F. Roncesvalles

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