Thursday, August 19, 2010

Workplace Gossip Can Stain Your Professional Reputation

If you or a co-worker is speaking in a hurtful manner about another co-worker, it is considered gossip. If your intent in initiating the gossip is to resolve a work matter, the best approach is to skip gossiping and, instead, speak directly to the co-worker you’re having an issue with. If that doesn’t work, engage your manager for guidance. Being considered a gossip may put a lasting stain on your professional reputation. You may also be in jeopardy of losing your job if management and your co-workers perceive you as someone whose gossip is impeding collaboration, productivity, and a positive work environment.

Whether you have a tendency to initiate gossip or associate with others who do, you’d do well to heed the advice below to steer clear of office gossip:

  • Be aware: You likely have several conversations a day with your co-workers. Be aware of what information you’re sharing and how you are presenting it, especially if you’re using sarcasm or jokes at the expense of others. Consider how your words might impact anyone you’re discussing who is not present.
  • Look at motives: Often, gossip is a defense mechanism or a means of avoiding confrontation. Think honestly about what is motivating your gossip. If gossip is an ongoing problem, consider confrontation training or even seeking professional help, especially if gossiping is damaging your career.
  • Avoid those who gossip: Avoid co-workers who gossip or who enjoy listening to your gossip. Whenever possible, remove yourself from conversations that involve gossip.
  • Redirect the conversation: If you are involved in a conversation with gossip, try redirecting the conversation. Hopefully, the person who is initiating the gossip picks up on the clue that you are not interested in gossiping.
  • Be direct: Address the person who is gossiping; explain to him/her that you don’t have a tolerance for gossip and you view it as detrimental. Strongly suggest that the gossiper take up the matter directly with the person he/she has an issue with. And, if you’re the person gossiping, be respectful if a co-worker shares this constructive advice.
  • Use open, honest communication: By using open and honest communication and maintaining professional integrity, you will earn the respect of your co-workers.

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