Every office has one and frankly, no office is immune to it. That employee who knows all the juicy stuff about everyone else, but never spills their own tea.
The office gossip has 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 and Head of IT when they just happened to pass by. Does that even make sense? Exactly!
Sadly, office gossips are professionals in creating a negative environment that breeds strive and lack of trust. And of course, an office gossip can only succeed at their own game, if they have someone whom they are spreading these gossips to; their victims. Being a victim or member of the ‘office gossip clique’ is not a good look. And on many occasions, the rumour spread by the office gossip rather comes back to hurt their victims.
Here’s the part that you can play to silence the office gossip and create an enjoyable work environment for yourself:
Don’t entertain the conversation
In order to silence the office gossip, you need to stop being their victim. 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 office gossip a hint that you’re not part of ‘the clique’. Plus, not reacting to their gossip will make it less fulfilling for them.
However, be aware that office gossips are in some cases big bullies as well. Not being a part of their ‘clique’ might cause them to see you as a threat “Is Your Workplace a Lion’s Den?”.
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 office gossips, 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 did you manage to get your boiler fixed?”… or something in that 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, should it be that you need to call an office gossip out on their behaviour, do this at a time when you’re not running too high on emotions. 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 worst case scenario’s, if you’re subject to office gossip or bullying, don’t keep this to yourself. Don’t suffer in silence. Speak to your manager or HR department. I myself had to learn this the hard way – It makes the difference.