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Dealing with Office Gossip

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 It’s amusing how gossip at the office works. Most of us women secretly want to be in on it, but nobody wants to be the subject of it – maybe because we realize that, despite our need to be in the know, the whispers by the water cooler can do more harm than good.

What is office gossip? Learn to recognize gossip straight away:

Informal Chat – the references made to other people are general, friendly and supportive. The speaker is not interested in degrading the person’s character
or reputation but merely giving information in a direct way to further an objective in an office conversation. If the person they are talking about overheard the conversation they would not be offended.

Gossip – is idle talk, a rumor about the personal or private affairs of others. According to Wikipedia it is one of the oldest and most common means of sharing facts, views and slander. The gossiper undermines the integrity and likeability of another person to become the centre of attention. They tell intimate details in a demoralising way.

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“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events.Small minds discuss people.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

How to avoid this career-limiting habit:
1. Avoid at all costs spreading any information that you are not 100% sure of as being factual. Would you be able to tell the comment to the person’s face without being  embarrassed or ashamed? Think how you would feel if someone were to say the same thing about you.

2. Don’t play broken telephone. Even if you have heard something about someone else don’t pass it down the line, and don’t validate the gossip with a comment.

3. Distance yourself from the office gossiper, as you are known by the company you keep!

4. Don’t allow yourself to listen to the gossiper – this is a way of “supporting” the gossip and becoming guilty by association. When someone tries to involve you in gossip you can say:
• “It’s really not my place to comment.” Then change the subject completely.
• State that you are not comfortable talking about the person e.g.  “Let’s not talk about Thuli – I would really prefer to hear about your weekend.”
• “I hadn’t heard that about Wayne. Should we go ask him if it’s true? We wouldn’t want to be spreading any rumours.”
• If the gossiper continues this is the right time to excuse yourself because you have “that” important call to make.

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5. When you know someone is gossiping about you, be proactive:

    • Approach them directly e.g.“I heard that you’ve been saying the following about me…..Whilst I wasn’t there to hear what you have been saying, I would appreciate it if you confronted me directly with any questions or comments rather than approaching other people.” Or “I would appreciate it if you cleared that false comment with the people you have discussed it with.”
• Approach them indirectly e.g. “I don’t know if you have heard the rumours going around about me. I really feel offended about them. If you hear whose spreading them, I would appreciate it if you would ask them to stop or tell me who it is.” Don’t elaborate just walk away to avoid a discussion.

6. How do you avoid being gossiped about? Don’t share intimate details of your personal life with everyone. Your colleagues might swear you can trust them with your deepest, darkest secrets, the reality is that you usually can’t.

“Before you speak, think: Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Will it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence?” – Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Haydee Antezana of Profesional Impressions  email: info@profimpressions.co.za     www.profimpressions.co.za

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