The Best Ways to Deal With Office Gossip
As your coworkers gather around the water cooler, you’re bound to hear someone say, “Did you hear about Mark,” “Can you believe what happened to Lauren,” or “What do you think is going on with “Jamie?”
That’s right, you have just stumbled upon some office gossip. Although some juicy gossip can buy some short-term entertainment, it can cause some irreparable harm to your workplace.
Office gossip cannot only lower morale, but it can cause people to lose their jobs. If you hear some coworkers gossiping, follow these steps to keep the situation from getting worse.
1. Quell the Situation With Your Words
When you hear one of your coworkers starting to gossip, there are things you can say to quash it in its tracks.
Some things you can say include:
- That’s none of our business
- We shouldn’t talk behind their back
- That’s their business
- I don’t want to talk about that
After you saying that, try to change the subject to something work related.
2. Tell Your Coworker About the Gossip Being Spread About Them
Even though you don’t want to hear about any office gossip, there is a chance that it will be spread regardless. If this happens, you should tell your coworkers that someone is spreading a rumor about them.
Depending on the rumor, this could be awkward, but tell them that you are coming to them as a concerned coworker and that you would want them to do the same were the situation reversed.
3. Got to Your Supervisor or Confront the Gossipers
Once you’ve told your coworker about the rumor, encourage them to speak with a supervisor about the situation. Also, discourage them from confronting the gossipers directly if they seem hotheaded. If your coworker can settle the situation civilly with the gossipers, that’s optimal, but if it will turn into a screaming match, it’s best to avoid that entirely.
If the rumor is toxic, personal, or career-threatening, you should go directly to your supervisor. Starting a rumor about someone being in an elicit or illegal activity is not something to take lightly.
4. If the Rumor is True, Act Accordingly
If you tell your coworker about the rumor spread about them, there is a chance that you’ll learn that the rumor is true.
Most likely, if the rumor is true, you should still encourage your coworker to either confront the gossipers or go to your supervisor. However, in some scenarios you might want to consider other options.
If you learn that your coworker’s well-being is in danger, you might want to consider that they speak with the Human Resources Department, or even the police. For example, if your coworker is involved in a sexual relationship with someone at the company, encourage them to disclose the situation to HR. If you learn that their life is in danger for one reason or another, go to the police. If you learn that they have severe depression and that they are growing unstable, encourage them to consult HR and look into seeing a therapist.
You might also learn that your coworker is involved with something illegal, and are unwilling to stop. In this situation, you should bring this information to your supervisor.
5. What if Someone Starts a Rumor or Gossips About You?
If you have an office bully, there is an entire other article you need to consult. However, if you learn that someone has started a rumor about you, we recommend that you do the following:
First, you should record the instance. Log when you heard the rumor, who you heard it from and what the rumor was.
Second, you should tell the person you heard it from that the rumor is false and to stop spreading it.