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The Dangers Of Workplace Gossip And How To Steer Clear Of It

​The Dangers Of Workplace Gossip And How To Steer Clear Of It.

11 February 2019, By Belinda Wiggins 

It can seem so harmless, but there is a fine line between idle chit chat around the water cooler and negative, hurtful gossip about someone in the workplace. Although it can be tempting, and it is an easy trap to fall into, office gossip is unprofessional and can not only cause irreparable damage to a person’s reputation, but it has the potential to cause a negative atmosphere which can disrupt the workplace.

Gossip is defined as conversation or reports about a person (or group of people) that haven’t been confirmed as true. Humans are social by nature, and social interactions can easily turn into gossip sessions. Gossip in general can give a person a sense of inclusion, and can help you bond with others however, it is important to remember that when harmless small talk in the office becomes inflammatory, hurtful, or embarrassing to the subject of the conversation, it is classified as workplace bullying.

If you have ever been the subject of office gossip, you will know that not only does it hurt your feelings – but it destroys trust and causes a very real risk to a person’s mental health.

If gossip is common within the workplace, it can have a negative impact on company culture, resulting in poor morale. Rumours, backstabbing and bullying make it difficult for employees to do their job and more often than not leads to a breakdown in communication or trust between teams. This can be costly for a business, as low moral workplaces report more sick days, higher rates of staff turnover and lower rates of productivity – which can ultimately affect the company’s bottom line.

So how can you steer clear of office gossip?

  • Don’t ever vent (personal or professional) frustrations in the workplace. Professional frustrations can be escalated to HR or management instead;

  • Learn to identify trigger situations, and topics – and avoid these;

  • Change the subject as smoothly as possible, or – if comfortable to do so, point out that the conversation is inappropriate;

  • Never repeat anything that shouldn’t be repeated.

Although office gossip isn’t rife throughout every work place, when it does occur, it can be a tricky situation for management to deal with. The key is to be aware of what is happening within your workplace, and ensure negative gossip is addressed early to create a harmonious environment for all employees.

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