Are You the Target of Gossip in the Workplace (or Maybe the Gossip Yourself?}

Respectful Conduct in the Workplace……that’s all we ask for. Is that too much?
I was talking with a friend of mine this week about a situation that she’s dealing with at her workplace.
She has a colleague who has turned into a supreme gossiper. Perhaps she always was, but until a recent situation, no one ever realized it.
There will always be rumours and gossip in organizations.
Rumours and gossip can be very harmful and destructive. Some people, like this particular colleague at my friend’s office, take particular pleasure in being ‘in the know’ and then sharing that knowledge with anyone and everyone they can. They totally disregard the consequences.
Do you know someone like this? I’m sure you do. Most workplaces have them. The destructive nature of their behaviour is so powerful that it is one of the reasons that gossiping is specifically listed within most Respectful Conduct in the Workplace policies, as being an example of “unacceptable behaviour.”

Why Give Them The Satisfaction?

When we are dealing with the proverbial office-gossiper, remember that they get satisfaction from being the first with the news. They also get satisfaction from the reaction of the people they then share this news with. That said, one good way to remove that reward is to clearly tell them that you are not interested in gossip.

How to deal with A Gossip

Try saying this:

“Phil, I don’t think that what you’re saying is very kind at all. I’m not even sure it’s true. I’m really not interested in spending any time on this kind of thing.”

On the other hand, if you, like my friend, are the focus of the gossip, then you’ll need a different approach altogether. The important thing is to remain calm, and pay attention to your body language.
Try saying this:

“Phil, I’d appreciate you clearing up some confusion. I’ve heard that you said this about me. Is that true? Why would you say something like that? I really don’t appreciate that kind of thing. I’d like you to know that I want it to stop.”

Most Respectful Conduct in the Workplace policies should suggest that you talk to the person face-to-face about your experience and the impact their behaviour is having on you.
If that doesn’t work, or it isn’t something you feel that you are able to manage successfully, for one reason or another, then you should involve your supervisor, either to help facilitate a meeting with that person, or for the supervisor to talk to them on your behalf.
The idea is to get the behaviour to stop, and for the person to realize the impact they’re having on you. Only then can we get on with our work without that uncomfortable feeling within the workplace. Is that too much to ask for?
If that does not work, then the next stage of the policy is there for a reason.
Good luck.