Gossip in the office

ImageWhat is gossip?

Gossip is as old as communication and no workplace is immune from it. Gossip tends to be talk that gains attention for the speaker. The speaker will often adopt a confidential tone and he or she uses this information about somebody else to be the center of attention and will narrate the details in a way that tries to undermine the credibility or likability of thisn person. The details may be given with moralizing undertones and character assassination may be the top of the gossiper’s agenda. Often you are told more personal details than you care to know about. The motivations behind gossip include attention-seeking, self-inflation, exaggeration and me-versus-them mentality.

The difference between it and Discussion;

Unlike Gossip, discussion involve talks about others and references to other people in general, friendly and supportive. The speaker is not obsessed with picking holes in another person’s character but is merely imparting information about what another person or people have done in a matter-of-fact, to further an objective, work-related conversation and to enlighten the listener about office relevant information. Some people gossip can be referred to as grapevine gossip, this pertains a general change occurring within a workplace. It’s started by someone and now it’s spreading like about like a wildfire. It’s always by some with silly wild guesses in his or her head. It’s less personal than gossip because it’s not attacking another person bit it’s equally damaging and demoralizing.

How a Gossip starts;

It starts out innocently enough… for example

Aisha:        Good Morning

Chinwe:     Morning

Aisha:        Have you seen Tunde this morning?

Chinwe       No

Aisha:        I am so sorry for that guy

Chinwe:    What happened to him?

Aisha:          oh! You don’t know about his wife

Chinwe:     What happened to his wife?

Aisha:        I am surprise you don’t know that Tunde’s wife

is dating our Boss or what is she always looking for in this company especially when her husband is not around. She comes out of Oga’s office with her dress rumpled.

Its bites me why someone just takes pleasure in destroying people with their tongue and how they come by all this stories. When a gossip spreader comes to me, I ask myself these question. Why is she telling me? Will the information benefits me? What’s in it for this gossip?

If the answers to these questions are fuzzy, you can probably assume the news bearer is reveling in knowing something others don’t yet know. Such “news,” whether accurate or not, provides a momentary feeling of superiority and control that the gossip probably lacks otherwise. Unfortunately, a gossip isn’t satisfied just possessing the information. After all, knowledge that isn’t shared is wasted, right? How would others know the value of this soul unless the intelligence is disseminated? This is where others get implicated without necessarily being willing participants. Even the “innocent” are drawn in to the gossip’s web by merely listening. For a few fleeting moments, this person has everyone’s undivided attention, and this is “reward” enough.

Gossips themselves might not immediately suffer for their loose tongues, but they will be found out. The consequences may include poor performance reviews, no pay raises, reprimands from supervisors, or possibly dismissal because of their involvement in destroying office morale or committing slander.

Gossips are usually proactive in sharing their wealth of information, so others have little trouble knowing who they are. Smart coworkers will learn to avoid them any way they can, even though this is not always easy or possible. Even if you yourself don’t initiate gossip, just listening to it takes a toll and carries consequences. Guilt by association immediately comes to mind. If several people are present when a gossip leaks a juicy tidbit, you may be credited as the source at some later point just because you were present. People’s memories aren’t always accurate.

Of course, the one who suffers most is the subject under discussion. Even if the rumor proves to be just that, the damage has been done. Those who have heard the gossip will be unable to completely erase it from their minds. The consequences for this person might be devastating

My advice to you;

Gossip is a universal human behavior that we all engage in, and which serves a functional purpose for employees and organizations. Remember, many of us spend more time with our work colleagues than with our own families and that idle gossip sometimes helps to cement the bonds of collegiality. But, know that malicious or excessive gossip disrupts production, lowers morale, and often targets individual employees. In fact, gossip can cross the line into harassment or mobbing behaviors, and can become unhealthy. Do not tolerate malicious gossip and face any colleague who is spreading gossips about you. Make him or her understand that such behavior towards you will not be accepted and deal with rumor immediately before it gets cold because the untamed Parrot could deny, if you waste too much time making conclusions on the issue…

So, don’t take office gossip to heart. A lot of office is just that gossip. It’s filled with innuendo, rumors, errors and even deliberately malicious nonsense. Take it with a pinch of salt rather than reacting personally or defensively. But as I wrote earlier it’s should be dealt with strongly and immediately but it will not help you as a colleague to take it personal. It’s better to focus on the reality that there is an underlying reason or series of reasons causing the gossip and focus on dealing with it objectively as a task rather than as a personal attack foiled in an emotional or angry manner

ImageMost Gossip are attention seeker. Do not give them what they seek. They enjoy it because they feel insecure about others in the working place. Help their insecurity, ask them what their problem is and why are they bothering you with other people information that do they perceive you as a gossip. Doing this shows them that you have seen through their muckraking for what it is

Another tactic is to inform the gossiper that you are prepared to follow up the gossip. This will let the gossiper know the information is going back to the targeted person and the gossiper will either retract or apologize.

Be firm in letting them know that the gossip must stop and make it clear that you don’t tolerate gossip…Image

If you are a natural gossip, keep yourself busy. Idle hands are the devil’s forked tongue. You get?


5 thoughts on “Gossip in the office

  1. When people gossip, it’s usually because they think they are morally better placed or materially above the subjects of their gossips. This of course has to do with the act of gossip and not the profession itself. Gossip however often provides a platform to understand others around you and to know what they will do or in fact say behind you.

  2. Pingback: Integrity Appears Out of the Unseen – Gossip Part 1 | Obstacle Blaster

  3. Pingback: Integrity Appears Out of the Unseen – Gossip Part 2 | Obstacle Blaster

  4. Pingback: Integrity Appears Out of the Unseen – Gossip | Obstacle Blaster

  5. Pingback: Obstacle Blaster | Integrity Appears Out of the Unseen – Gossip Part 1 | Obstacle Blaster

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