Tall Poppy

How to deal with gossip in business

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It doesn’t matter how mild mannered you are – there’s bound to be someone in your office or industry with a negative attitude and little regard for the feelings of others. In school, you probably referred to these individuals as bullies or busybodies. You can’t fire these people, and you don’t want to put yourself in a position that would make your career vulnerable. Handling gossipers carefully can help you emerge as the bigger person.

Consider the position of the gossiper

It may seem like the last thing you want to do is view the world through the perspective of someone who engages in harmful social behavior, but doing so can give you the insight you need to understand the problem. Maybe the gossiper is going through a hard time in their personal life, and the stress is following them to work. Perhaps the gossiper is upset that you were chosen for a promotion they were after. It’s also important to consider whether or not the gossip could be considered an act of retaliation to something you’ve done to upset the person, whether or not you did it on purpose.

Avoid retorting

You probably have a million things you’d like to say to the person who is spreading rumors about you, and chances are that none of them are very nice. It’s normal to feel upset – especially if your reputation is being besmirched. Take some time to process your emotions. Let the anger or sadness go before you address the issue. Attempting to handle the issue while tensions are high can result in the issue being made worse.

Address the issue

Some issues aren’t worth addressing. If the person who started the rumor is known as a gossip factory, it’s very likely that the rumors will blow over in a few days. If you have a legitimate reason to believe that this individual will be seen as credible, it may be worth addressing the issue. If you’re ever asked, demystify any unfounded rumors politely and in as few words as possible. If there is any truth in the rumors, give a brief statement regarding the actual truth of the matter.

Watch what you say

Gossip often starts when someone is made privy to a certain piece of information, and decides to conflate a small issue in order to make it more interesting. If this gossip stems from your personal life, it’s best to avoid discussing personal matters at work. If you’ve said things that you shouldn’t have that may have inadvertently started problems, it’s time to start policing your words a little better. You could have been giving people information to use against you without even realizing it. Before you say something, consider how it may be interpreted if the wrong person overheard your statement.

Know When to speak to management

If a malicious individual is causing unnecessary workplace drama by involving themselves in everyone else’s business, it may be time to get management involved. If gossip is getting to the point where it’s difficult for people to do their jobs, something has to change. At the end of the day, everyone is coming to their workplace to earn a living. Slander, lies, and childish games of storytelling can drastically halt productivity. While it may not be worth getting management involved for a one-time incident, you should consider having a sit down with your boss about repeat offenders – especially if you aren’t the only target.

It’s important to remember that everything passes eventually. You may feel flustered in the moment, but people will find new things to talk about when a topic becomes stale. Maintain your professional image, work your hardest, and move forward.

About Emily Burgess

Emily Burgess is an avid blogger who enjoys writing about all aspects of improving a business, be it marketing, customer service or training. Emily is currently sharing some of her ideas at Course Guru – experts in the field of online education. Personally, she’s a great fan of foreign languages.

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    1 Comment

    1. alexandra.caron@gmail.com'

      alexandra

      March 19, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      Agree entirely!

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