We’re all human, and it can be tempting to share a juicy story you just heard about a colleague. It can be easy to complain about your boss or a difficult associate on your team. But it’s important to remember not to give into gossip at work because it can be harmful – both personally and professionally.
“Gossip decreases productivity, hurts office morale and creates a negative vibe,” says Ashley Tanner, director of career services for Globe University. “It strains relationships and affects you in more ways than one.”
To avoid getting yourself into trouble with hearsay, follow these guidelines to remain professional, honest and respected by others at the office.
While at work, Tanner says it’s important to stay focused on your duties and try not to stray with gossip. She also points out that even being associated with gossip can taint your reputation around the office.
“Commit to a goal of not gossiping, but just as important, distance yourself from people who gossip; you’re known by the company you keep,” says Tanner. “Gossipers are viewed as untrustworthy. They may not be asked to work on teams because of it.”
To avoid getting wrapped up in the chatter, set the tone with your colleagues. Stick to work, and let people know right away that you’re not interested in gossiping.
Reveal Little Information
There is a fine line between your personal and professional life, and it’s important to keep them separate so that you avoid being the center of rumors. Don’t discuss details of personal issues at work.
“Limit what you tell others about your personal life,” recommends Tanner. “Share certain things, but keep others that could be seen in a negative light, to yourself.”
This isn’t to say that you can’t talk about your kids or what you did over the weekend with your colleagues, but Tanner warns that it can be a slippery slope. Associating with coworkers outside of the office can also be tricky.
“Work happy hours are okay, but watch what you say. Don’t completely let your guard down,” Tanner says. “Saying something negative about your boss to your coworker might get back to him or her the next day.”
The best way to avoid gossip is to have respect for the people you work with.
“Try to make the conversation positive when talking about coworkers,” says Tanner. “If something bad is said about someone, add what they do well.”
If you have an issue with a coworker, contact him or her directly to discuss it. Complaining to others who aren’t involved can lead to gossip.
“Go straight to the source, and come up with a solution instead of just presenting the problem,” Tanner says. “If it isn’t resolved, resort to following the chain of command to get supervisors involved, if necessary.”
Another way to steer clear of inappropriate chitchat is to be you, all the time. Don’t talk behind others’ backs or be two-faced. Being open and up-front will not only keep you from being the subject of gossip but will also establish you as someone who doesn’t tolerate idle talk.
Overall, Tanner stresses the harm gossip can do to your career and your professional reputation.
“Maintaining workplace etiquette is imperative,” she says. “Keep gossip at a minimum and avoid skewing information.”
By staying focused, divulging minimal information, having respect for others and being authentic, you’ll avoid falling into gossip at work and maintain a professional reputation that will help advance your career. To learn more about Globe University and career support services visit www.globeuniversity.edu/about-us/career-services.