“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.” Proverbs 20:19
“Some say our national pastime is baseball. Not me. It’s gossip.” Erma Bombeck
As our children go back to school, and we some of us go back to the actual workplace, it is important to get our bearings around one of the underpinnings of office and school culture- gossip. Our friend, Tricia Davenport, pulled together some ways to identify when chatter turns to gossip and some easy ways to move into a different conversation. Read on to arm yourself with some good information and techniques to waylay office gossip.
When chitchat becomes gossip –
It can be tricky to know when chitchatting with your colleague has moved into gossip. Here are some examples of gossip:
• Does the chitchat rejoice in the misfortune of others?
• Does it have a negative emotional charge or seem to perpetuate conflict or negativity?
• Does it hurt or damage the one being spoken of? Would you say it in front of the person’s face?
• Is it an unsubstantiated rumor about another employee’s work situation (promotion or demotion) or about the organization as a whole?
How can we all help curb gossiping in the workplace?
While talking to a sympathetic fellow employee can feel really, really good sometimes, it can also harm your reputation and the morale of an organization. So, the next time your co-worker tries to gossip with you here’s what to say to (politely) shut it down.
• “Huh. That doesn’t sound true.” – This response will work for virtually all rumors. By shedding some doubt on the truthfulness of the story, you’ll make it difficult for the gossiper to continue.
• “That must have been tough. [Name] must have been having a bad day.” When someone is complaining, they might just need some sympathy. After you express it, you can change the subject.
• “Ugh! I’d much rather talk about your weekend plans/exciting new project. How is it going?” Switch the topic so blatantly to make it about the other person.
• “I’d love to chat, but I’m super busy right now.” This is a polite way to end a conversation with anyone dead-set on gossiping.
• “Hmm, that’s so weird – I’ve only had great experiences with [Name].” It’s difficult to keep insulting or spreading gossip about people when the person you’re talking to has just praised them.
• “I’m trying not to gossip anymore. Let’s talk about your side gig instead. How’s that been going?” When you’ve tried to change the subject and your colleague won’t stop, come right out and say you’re kicking the habit.
• “You should probably talk to [Name] directly. If it were me, I’d want the opportunity to set the record straight.” This shows you are not interested in discussing the topic and reminds your colleague that they should talk to the person directly to get accurate information.
What do you think, friends? Any do these thoughts bring up any other ideas on how to curb the office gossip?