Every office has one and frankly, no office is immune to it. That coworker who knows all the juicy stuff about everyone else, but never spills their own tea.
Those kinds of coworkers (the office gossip) seem to have a problem with everything, so everything needs to be said. From the colour of shoes the manager is wearing today, to the new company policy rumours that the office gossip overheard the MD tell the HR-Director when they just happened to pass by. Does that even make sense? Exactly!
Sadly, coworkers who gossip are professionals in creating a negative environment that breeds strive and lack of trust. And of course, an office gossip can only succeed when they have someone whom they can spread these rumours to. However, becoming a member of the ‘office gossip clique’ is not a good look for your career and future within the company.
So here’s how to effectively avoid office gossip:
Don’t entertain the conversation
In order to successfully avoid office gossip, you need to stop being available to the coworker that loves to gossip. Stop giving them a listening ear whenever they have new ‘tea’ (rumours) to spill. Train yourself to ignore these comments and conversations. Yes, you want to be more social, but not engaging in conversations that put others and the company down does not make you unsocial.
Politely exit yourself from the conversation. Hopefully, after a few times, this should give the coworker a hint that you’re not part of ‘the clique’. Plus, not reacting to their gossip will make it less fulfilling for them.
Switch the conversation
Another useful approach is to learn how to switch the conversation. You might not always be in a position to completely ignore the gossiping.
So when dealing with the office gossip, spinning the conversation in a completely opposite (but positive) direction is key. Even better, start making the conversation about them. For example, “Have you heard that …?” “Oh ok! Btw so did you manage to get your boiler fixed?”… or something like that.
Model desired behaviour
“When you know better, you can do better”
Maya Angelou said it best when she said, “When you know better, you can do better”. If there’s no example, be the example. And sometimes you can only do this by being straightforward.
Therefore, if you need to call a coworker out on their behaviour, do this firmly but politely. Office gossips like drama and they don’t mind creating it too. Keep in mind that calling someone out on their behaviour might not change a thing. However, since you know better you can do better by modelling the right and desired behaviour.
In the worst case scenarios, if you’re subject to office gossip or bullying, don’t keep this to yourself. Don’t suffer in silence. Speak to your line manager or HR manager – You’re not alone!