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How To Stop Negative Gossip In Office

How To Stop Negative Gossip In Office

Office gossip can have devastating effects on office morale and can sometimes get a person into trouble, especially if the gossip turns out to ruin someone’s reputation. Office gossip not only destroys a team’s cohesiveness, but it can also lead to poor work performance for those who gossip and those whom the gossip is directed. It is difficult to stay on task and complete work assignments on the job when gossip takes center stage. The best and most effective way to deal with gossip is to defeat it from the beginning instead of allowing things to fester.

A good leader can stop office gossip in its tracks

Anyone knows, or at least should know, that a good leader can provide a team with modeling of what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior for the office. It is important that a leader or any supervisor not engage in office gossip; once they do, it allows for the rest of the team to feel that they too can engage in such negative conversations. A good leader can also nip gossip in the bud by quelling rumors and addressing unwanted behaviors with team members individually and as a group. It is important to do this quickly, up front, in order to keep harmony within the office environment and productivity running smoothly.

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Often, most leaders are entirely too busy with their own workload that they do not take the time to brush up on their most important skills, namely their interpersonal skills. It is of utmost importance that any leader understand how to manage people with a balanced, fair mind. If this is an area that you struggle with as a leader, I challenge you to brush up on your people skills by taking a class or attending a seminar, especially within the realm of human service or psychology.

Make sure you understand the facts

A good leader should always speak with each team member involved in gossip individually, and then assess the situation objectively so that there isn’t a rush to judgment as to who may be the culprit(s). This will eliminate any feelings of favoritism or being singled out by any one person.

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Address the issue with everyone in a proper way

A leader should always remain calm when speaking with team members and office staff about gossip. Sometimes personal feelings may get in the way of being objective. For example, maybe someone as a team leader/supervisor hears about gossip that hits close to home; in other words maybe the leader experienced harassment in their past in a similar way and it is conjuring up feelings of humiliation and guilt, thus the leader may strike out against team members irrationally. It is always best to have a plan of action ahead of time as to how the gossip will be addressed, so as to avoid such issues.

Team members should always be honest about gossip

When bringing issues of gossip to your leader or being confronted about such issues, honesty is best policy at this point. Reason being, gossip can turn ugly and lead to negative work remarks such as write ups or in extreme cases being fired or sued. It is best to come clean and be honest without embellishing facts so as to get anyone into trouble falsely.

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Leaders should always confront repeat offenders

Letting gossip go on until it has escalated to a point of no return will only suffice to reinforce such behaviors or lead to possible workplace violence. We see in the news headlines constantly of violence for various reasons, bullying and harassment being a major culprit. Gossip can often feel like harassment to the person it is directed at, even if the rumors turn out to be true. The workplace should always be viewed as a place of productivity, not “off duty” time.

There you have some basics of how to quell office gossip. I hope you find that by utilizing some basic approaches you can have an office environment of peace and harmony.

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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