Because of the economy, people are edgy about their status at work… more insecure, and this can lead to gossiping about their co-workers. A study by the American Society for Training and Development that 21 percent of people say they are “frequent participants” in workplace gossip, and 64 percent say they gossip at work “sometimes.” An estimate by the U.S. Department of Labor found that the cost of negativity in the workplace is around $3 billion annually. Here are some ways to eliminate work gossip or at least reduce it slightly.
Stop the Talk:
- If a person is gossiping about a co-worker, defend the co-worker and the praise the work they do in the office.
- Change the subject to work-related conversation.
- Openly communicate. Gossip is usually spread because of misunderstandings or fears about what’s going on in the workplace. If you’re in a management position, hold weekly meetings or send daily e-mails to employees that explain what’s happening in the office. Those updates can help reduce rumors and gossip.
- Set the tone: be a leader. Do not engage in this practice.
If you are the subject of workplace gossip, you can confront the person spreading the gossip privately and ask them to stop. However, the person spreading the gossip may continue to gossip even after a confrontation. Also, it may be hard to find out who actually started the rumors. No need to delve too deeply into this. It is important to learn to quickly address such problems and move on.
Another approach to workplace gossip advocated by author Rudy Simone is more indirect. The individual who is the subject of workplace gossip could address rumors anonymously when there are a large group of employees around, like in the workplace lunchroom. Among the group of employees, the subject of gossip should remind the employees that the rumors being spread are untrue, hurtful and lead to mistrust in the workplace. If the gossip still hasn’t stopped and becomes disruptive to work, the subject of the gossip should tell their manager of their human resources department so they can help resolve the situation.
Work can be stressful enough without worrying about rumors being spread. A survey conducted by the staffing firm Randstad USA and Harris Interactive found that 60 percent of more than 1,500 respondents said workplace gossip is the most negative part of their job. Confronting gossip and even stopping gossip in the workplace can make the workplace more productive, more open and a more pleasant environment for all employees.
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