workplace gossip

How To Manage Workplace Gossip And Rumors

Workplace gossip can be cruel and cause damage. People talk, a lot, especially on the job. When we spend more time at work with our colleagues, it’s human nature to want to get to know them – about their personal lives, and share your personal moments. But, people can go too far. If you’ve been working for a bit of time now, it’s very likely that you’ve come across gossip.

On the job gossiping can be humiliating, hurtful and can cause damage to not only the person involved but to the company. Gossiping is now considered an element of bullying. The team at Absolute Traffic Management thought it was important to share ideas on how to deal with gossiping in the workplace.

Gossiping is unprofessional and you can be labelled as a troublemaker; gossiper; immature and untrustworthy. Once you get this type of reputation, it may jeopardise your chances of gaining future work contracts; impact on any promotions; or receiving a positive reference from your employer. What are the effects of gossiping on the workplace and how to react if you see it happen?


What Is Gossiping And How Does It Affect The Workplace?


Gossiping can be conversations or reports about other people’s personal lives, intimate matters, and personal sensitive affairs, that might be unkind, disapproving, or not true. Repeated bullying and gossiping can cause that person (being gossiped about) mental health problems such as anxiety, and depression, feeling isolated, alone, bullied, and/or victimised and trigger physical health problems such as high blood pressure and difficulty sleeping.

Gossiping damages workplaces by negatively affecting employee productivity because employees take time away from their work. It also can lower staff morale, diminish trust in other employees and create divisiveness. Gossiping can trigger workplace investigations; allegation of bullying; and termination of work contracts – yes, people can lose their jobs. The workplace will not feel like a good place to work at.

Unfortunately, workplace gossip is present in most worksites. And, it can be difficult to control. So, what should you do if gossiping is happening at your work site? What is important is how you deal with gossiping. In brief, are you going to get involved or decide to walk away?


What To Do If You See Gossiping Happening At Work?


There are some tips about dealing with gossiping at your worksite:

Do not get involved in gossip.

Do not participate in listening or spreading gossip. If someone is sharing with you something bad about someone, try changing the subject. And, explain you’re trying to get rid of this habit.

Address gossip immediately.

To avoid the quick spread of gossip, and a toxic atmosphere, speak with your supervisor or manager regarding concerns of gossiping on the worksite. They can immediately take steps to investigate the matter.

Say something nice or positive.

Remember the saying ‘if you have nothing nice to say, then do not say anything at all’. Especially, remember that when you are around colleagues who are gossiping. Saying something nice and/or positive can stop gossiping and gossipers in their tracks.

Avoid gossipers.

Steer clear of drama. If you notice one person who is consistently gossiping, then take the actions to have as little interaction or contact with that person as possible.

Keep your private life private.

Set limits to separate your work and personal life. First, it increases your efficiency at work and reduces stress in your private life. Second, this is a great way to feel better at work and avoid burnout. So, resist the urge to share everything and pick your confidants carefully.

Do not get drawn into the drama.

You were hired to do your job. So, focus on your own job and doing the best job you can. This should take up most of your time at work. Otherwise, if you indulge in gossip or other bad behaviour, you will get side-tracked.

Just remember, gossiping takes away time from doing your job. And, it can cause harm to colleagues and the company. In short, gossiping causes more harm than good. So, do not get involved. And, if you have nothing nice to say, do not say anything at all.

Want more information about gossiping and what you can do? Check out SafeWork NSW. Under SafeWork NSW, gossiping is classed as an element of bullying.

But, what to do if you are a victim of gossiping at your jobsite? It is important to deal with the situation without making it worse. Strong emotions can make us act on impulse without thinking through the consequences. And in turn, it can make the situation worse.


What To Do If You’re A Victim Of Gossiping?


There are some tips to deal with being a victim of gossiping on the worksite:

Review your company’s policy around gossiping and bullying.

Your company must apply a zero-tolerance policy on workplace gossiping and bullying. And, employees found in violation of your company’s policy should be disciplined, up to and including termination.

Do not be afraid to go to a superior or supervisor.

Companies are always interested in developing and keeping a positive work environment. And, they will have options available to deal with gossiping on the job.

Keep your personal, private, and sensitive matters private.

Remember, do not trust your most private personal matters with colleagues. And, keep in mind that if your colleagues are gossiping about others, they will gossip about you.

Choose your friends wisely at work.

Except in COVID time, we tend to spend more time at work and around colleagues. And, it’s normal to develop friendships. But, share your information sparingly at work.

Regulate and manage your negative emotions and responses.

When we are reacting on impulse, when you are feeling upset, angry, depressed, or embarrassed, we generally have not thought through the consequences. Remember, when emotions are high our intelligence is low.

Consider how to respond.

Think through what has happened and why. This is easier said than done especially when your emotions are heightened, and you feel distressed and angry. But, try and take some time to ride out the emotions and snap out of the negative mindset to figure out a constructive solution.

Be kind to yourself.

Take a moment to step back and focus on what is going right. Do not cling to the negative. And, use what works best for you to remain calm. For instance, use breathing and mindfulness strategies (like meditation), unplug from work, work out (for instance yoga), or take walks. And, use emotional intelligence to avoid making the situation any worse.

Remember you are not alone.

Unfortunately, gossiping occurs in all different workplaces. So, there is a high chance that others are experiencing something like you. But, whatever you do, please speak to somebody you trust like your supervisor for support and guidance.


Workplace Gossip: Remember, You Are Not Alone


It is hard to deal with gossiping especially on a jobsite, particularly when the gossiping is untrue and hurtful. At Absolute Traffic Management, we promote a workplace free from gossip and negativity. We take the issue very seriously. If we’re concerned regarding negative rumours, we would conduct interviews to verify the problem and take the appropriate action.

We hope these tips about how to manage workplace gossip and rumors will help you deal with gossiping. And, ultimately get rid of the problem. Just remember, use the support around you and know your company’s policy around gossiping and bullying. You can not control what other people say and do. But, you can control how you deal and respond to it. You are not alone. Contact us if you see gossiping happening during your shifts.