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The playwright Oscar Wilde once wrote "There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."Gossip is vital and, almost beneficial, in certain social circles. Aspiring celebrities are able to financially profit just by having their private lives discussed. However, gossip doesn't benefit anyone in the workplace and can be hurtful and detrimental. However, there are methods to quell the disruptive aspersions.
Gossip is as crucial to the workplace as coffee. Both, when used correctly in reasonable amounts, can fuel you to work harder and better. However, too much of both can cause you to crash and burn. Gossip, according to Psychology Today, has benefits such as “bringing colleagues together and serving as a source of information for employees who otherwise aren't getting any.” Gossip can also be the proverbial kick in the butt some workers need. If you overhear that your work is sloppy or that you are in danger of being axed, you can put in extra hours at the office and work harder to show that you are valuable. However, gossip that is mean-spirited and negative can lead to team discord and distrust.
Learn when to engage and disengage in workplace banter. Coworkers are distrustful and weary of others who don't engage in water cooler banter. Rather than risk alienation from your team, deal with it in a professional manner. If you don't want a certain aspect of your life discussed by your coworkers, don't bring it up. If you hear negative comments about yourself and they don't bother you, move on. Don't give the negative influences in your office anything to talk about. The negative gossipers in any office are easy to spot. Anyone who routinely says things such as “Did you hear...” or “Can you believe so-so did this...”, should be handled carefully. Exchange pleasantries, but don't reveal any information that you want kept private. Sometimes having nothing to talk about will silence a gossiper.
Some gossip can't be ignored. Coworker's comments that hurt you and either your personal and professional reputations must be addressed directly. Should you overhear a harsh comment about yourself, ask the coworker to clarify her comment. Some gossipers might be stopped in their tracks and will retreat. Be prepared for a fight if the gossiper gets defensive. Remember to keep calm and resist the urge to hurl epithet. If you get angry or start to cry, you risk a reputation around the office that you are either full of rage or overly sensitive.
Ask for a meeting either with your boss or human resources representative only when your job or life is in jeopardy. If this coworker's words make you dread going to work or your day-to-day work is impacted, consult a supervisor. Substantiate your claims. Is the person vilifying you online in various social media outlets? Show printed copies to your boss. Has a customer confessed that the coworker has been vocally disapproving of you? Have the customer detail the comments in a document. You must have proof for whatever allegations you are presenting.
Lowell, Massachusetts-based writer Kris Gleba has been writing home decor articles since 2008. She enjoys all aspects of small home living, from complete gut remodels to ingenius home decorating that incorporates style and function. She has previously written for the “Athol Daily News.” She holds a degree in professional writing from Fitchburg State University.