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.
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.
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.
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.