5 Tips on Dealing with Office Gossip
If kindness is magic, gossip is....the opposite of that. Maybe dark magic? Anyway, besides the obvious fact that gossip is not cool, it's also harmful to your career. You certainly don't want to be remembered for talking bad about your co-workers. Dealing with office gossip can be a challenge, especially when someone else brings it up. You can't exactly stand up and say what you're doing is wrong without damaging co-worker relationships. Most of us have been deeply affected by gossip at some point in our lives. I mean, all you have to do is think back to high school. When you're dealing with office gossip, you need the right tools, so the workplace doesn't turn into your old high school cafeteria. Read on to find out how to go about dealing with office gossip in a way that doesn't cost you your next promotion.
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1. Remember the Crappy Results
Think back to the last time you told someone something you shouldn't have. It felt pretty gross, right? I would be surprised if any of us had memories of gossip we felt great about. When it gets down to it, gossip just makes you feel like an impostor.
Here's the important part: keep associating that icky feeling with gossip.
When you're in a situation where someone starts to gossip and you feel that bad feeling, you'll be reminded to get out of that situation. Our bodies are made for fight or flight and there's no reason we can't apply that to gossip.
The icky feeling of being involved in gossip can trigger your best flight skills for a smooth exit or non-awkward transition.
2. Talk Back
Just because someone starts gossiping to you, doesn't mean you have to get involved. The problem is that when we hear gossip, our first instinct is to gossip right back. We immediately think of the juiciest dirt we have or what our opinion on the matter is.
Lori Harder of the Earn Your Happy podcast says to this, "Gossip blocks your blessings."
Instead of replying with your own gossip or your opinion on someone's faults, talk back with love. When someone tells you something bad about someone, reply with something you admire about them.
For example, say your colleague starts talking about how annoying someone is. You could reply, "You know, whenever I think of [that person] I remember [insert compliment]. Or "Nah, [insert name] is awesome. Do you remember [insert compliment]?"
Gossip seems to take us back to high school where we didn't talk back to gossip, but you're in the real world now. You can disagree with someone in a friendly way.
3. Become Someone Who Doesn't Gossip
In the long run, you want to become someone that people don't want to gossip around. You want them to know that gossip isn't your thing. Want to talk The Voice or New Girl? Sure. But gossip is a no.
If you want to be irreplaceable in the office, gossip cannot be the thing you're known for, so keep shutting it down.
Over time, your colleagues will figure out that you're not going to be someone they vent about all their petty frustrations to.
4. Remember Their Challenges
The temptation to engage in gossip will be strong when you actually agree with it.
But no matter how annoying or wrong someone is, it's never a good thing to talk bad about them. It's just not your business.
So in these times, remind yourself that everyone is going through something really hard. You can look at your own life to know that's true.
People go through challenges that you can't see. So do you really want to be the person that puts them down when they're going through something painful/depressing/terrible/hard?
I like to remember this especially when I don't understand why someone would do something. We just don't know their motives or what they could be going through that would make them do something mean or annoying, so we can't judge.
5. When Colleagues are Gossiping About You
The next hardest time not to gossip about someone is when they've gossiped about you. But remember this, it won't change anything if you gossip back. What they say about you does not define you. It only reveals their true nature.
The best thing you can do is let it go.
It's not your business what other people think about you and it really doesn't matter. The only time that I would consider doing something about this is if it could impact how your boss sees you.
When that happens, in your next 1-1 with your boss just tell them, "I don't know if you heard about this [gossip], I wanted to make sure that you knew it isn't true and it doesn't affect my performance." Case closed.
How have you handled dealing with office gossip? Tell us your tips in the comments below.