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7 Things to Do in a Gossipy Work Environment

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7 Things to Do in a Gossipy Work Environment

Office gossip is alive and well and likely to continue into the next millennium. One study done by the University of Amsterdam has revealed that 90% of the conversation in the workplace can only be defined as gossip. It has also wormed its way into office emails where it is estimated that it occupies about 15% of office communications.

Now, gossipy colleagues may actually perform a useful function, if the gossip remains at a harmless level. It can also be quite funny and entertaining as in the BBC’s classic TV show The Office. Gossip can also fill a gap when office communications and management are inadequate.

But what can you do if you have gossipy colleagues who are hell-bent on character assassination or who are determined to gain an advantage by spreading certain rumors? It can be a negative force and can fuel resentment, fear, envy and low morale. This is when office gossip becomes the ugly face of office politics.

Here are 7 actions to take when you have gossipy colleagues.

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1. Take action to stop negative gossip

If you are in a team leader role, you may have to take decisive action against individual colleagues who are indulging in negative gossip which is affecting morale and also productivity. This will have to be done on a one-on-one basis.

It will be up to you to keep the lines of communication open so that negative gossip never gets a foothold. Damaging gossip is fueled by a lack of appropriate communication.

2. Ask penetrating questions

“I know nothing more annoying when people I don’t know jump to conclusions on my person based on nothing but gossip or speculation.”- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

If you find a colleague who is telling you doubtful details about a co-worker, try to pin her/him down. You can also ask for more details which will usually get a rather vague response. You can ask detailed questions about when and why various incidents occurred. The idea is to put the gossipy colleague in a difficult position which will expose him or her for what they really are – a gossip-monger.

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3. Stay out of the gossipy colleagues’ radar

“Gossip is the Devil’s radio” – George Harrison

If you decide to have no part in this type of gossip, you can very frankly say that you are just not interested in harmful conversations about colleagues. The gossiper will then leave you alone as he will view you as a poor gossip-monger. You can feel proud that you have taken such a stance. If all your colleagues did that, then this destructive gossip would dry up. Gossipy colleagues with no audience are dead in the water.

4. You can threaten to repeat the gossip to the victim

Gossipy colleagues hate this because they know that they will be exposed. Just say that you intend to repeat back to the hapless victim what you have just heard.

5. Being friendly with the office gossip will not protect you

“Who gossips to you will gossip of you” -Turkish proverb

You might prefer to take a more friendly approach. You might think that tolerance will go far and that you can handle the gossip in a light-hearted way. The only problem is that gossips talk about everyone so you may soon be a target!

6. Teamwork can work well

Try teaming up with your other co-workers. You can play a prank with their help. Invent some gossip about yourself and tell the gossiper that it is top secret. Let your colleagues know and when the gossiper tells everyone, you can confront her and ask her why she betrayed your trust on such a confidential matter. That should silence the muckraker.

7. Talking at the water cooler

This is where you will hear a lot of office gossip. If you find that the topic is the usual one about the uncertain future of the company, or some nasty back stabbing, then try to change the subject. Bringing up a neutral topic like a sports competition, food, sleep, or weather can often break up the gossipy colleagues. If you do not want to be involved at all, then tell them you have an urgent deadline to meet.

Avoiding harmful and horrible gossip is feasible if you follow the pointers above. The best solution is to steer clear of gossip when possible, and when you can’t, invent an excuse to get away. Urgent phone calls and meetings are very useful!

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Have you worked with gossipy colleagues and how did you deal with them? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: Gossip Girls / Art G. via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on November 15, 2021

20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

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20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

“Please describe yourself in a few words”.

It’s the job interview of your life and you need to come up with something fast. Mental pictures of words are mixing in your head and your tongue tastes like alphabet soup. You mutter words like “deterministic” or “innovativity” and you realize you’re drenched in sweat. You wish you had thought about this. You wish you had read this post before.

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    Image Credit: Career Employer

    Here are 20 sentences that you could use when you are asked to describe yourself. Choose the ones that describe you the best.

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    “I am someone who…”:

    1. “can adapt to any situation. I thrive in a fluctuating environment and I transform unexpected obstacles into stepping stones for achievements.”
    2. “consistently innovates to create value. I find opportunities where other people see none: I turn ideas into projects, and projects into serial success.”
    3. “has a very creative mind. I always have a unique perspective when approaching an issue due to my broad range of interests and hobbies. Creativity is the source of differentiation and therefore, at the root of competitive advantage.”
    4. “always has an eye on my target. I endeavour to deliver high-quality work on time, every time. Hiring me is the only real guarantee for results.”
    5. “knows this job inside and out. With many years of relevant experience, there is no question whether I will be efficient on the job. I can bring the best practices to the company.”
    6. “has a high level of motivation to work here. I have studied the entire company history and observed its business strategies. Since I am also a long-time customer, I took the opportunity to write this report with some suggestions for how to improve your services.”
    7. “has a pragmatic approach to things. I don’t waste time talking about theory or the latest buzz words of the bullshit bingo. Only one question matters to me: ‘Does it work or not?'”
    8. “takes work ethics very seriously. I do what I am paid for, and I do it well.”
    9. “can make decisions rapidly if needed. Everybody can make good decisions with sufficient time and information. The reality of our domain is different. Even with time pressure and high stakes, we need to move forward by taking charge and being decisive. I can do that.”
    10. “is considered to be ‘fun.’ I believe that we are way more productive when we are working with people with which we enjoy spending time. When the situation gets tough with a customer, a touch of humour can save the day.”
    11. “works as a real team-player. I bring the best out of the people I work with and I always do what I think is best for the company.”
    12. “is completely autonomous. I won’t need to be micromanaged. I won’t need to be trained. I understand high-level targets and I know how to achieve them.”
    13. “leads people. I can unite people around a vision and motivate a team to excellence. I expect no more from the others than what I expect from myself.”
    14. “understands the complexity of advanced project management. It’s not just pushing triangles on a GANTT chart; it’s about getting everyone to sit down together and to agree on the way forward. And that’s a lot more complicated than it sounds.”
    15. “is the absolute expert in the field. Ask anybody in the industry. My name is on their lips because I wrote THE book on the subject.”
    16. “communicates extensively. Good, bad or ugly, I believe that open communication is the most important factor to reach an efficient organization.”
    17. “works enthusiastically. I have enough motivation for myself and my department. I love what I do, and it’s contagious.”
    18. “has an eye for details because details matter the most. How many companies have failed because of just one tiny detail? Hire me and you’ll be sure I’ll find that detail.”
    19. “can see the big picture. Beginners waste time solving minor issues. I understand the purpose of our company, tackle the real subjects and the top management will eventually notice it.”
    20. “is not like anyone you know. I am the candidate you would not expect. You can hire a corporate clone, or you can hire someone who will bring something different to the company. That’s me. “

    Featured photo credit: Tim Gouw via unsplash.com

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