Did you know that 60% of employees consider gossip their number one pet peeve at work? This, according to a Randstad USA survey reported in Newsweek’s March 10th issue, Loose Lips Sink Shifts, by Anna Kuchment.
Kuchment’s article reports that, at one small Chicago firm, the problem was so big that they attacked the issue of office gossip by forcing an employee who says something negative about another person behind his or her back to repeat it to their colleague’s face. One might imagine that this would stem the tide!
The article acknowledges that some gossip helps employees connect and learn important information that wouldn’t be available to them otherwise. However, Kuchment offers several tips to keep in mind if gossip is getting out of hand at your office:
Separate the good from the bad. Venting can be helpful, but mean-spirited bad mouthing is not.
Learn to deflect. Try not to get sucked in to a gossip mill. If someone makes a nasty comment, stay neutral and consider playing dumb.
Set a time limit. Are layoff rumors running rampant? Make a point to touch in with a reliable source once a week, but don’t spend the rest of your time spreading unproductive gossip.
Don’t overshare. Keep personal sharing to a few close friends who will keep your confidence.
Never gossip by e-mail. A paper trail is dangerous – and hard to deny! Plus, you never know who might “accidentally” forward your scurrilous e-mail message to the entire office.
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