Sat. Jun 25th, 2022

Want job success? Quit gossiping at work — and help others get off the gossip wheel, too

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With many people returning to their offices or job sites — but not everyone! — some pre-pandemic challenges are again becoming part of today’s workplace culture.

One persistent issue is office gossip. 

It’s a vicious cycle: Gossiping at work affects employee morale, job satisfaction, productivity and the overall work culture. 

FOX Business reached out to experts about how to get off the gossip wheel at work — and how employees can remove themselves from fraught or difficult situations, which sends a message to others as well.

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Experts also shared insights on why all workers, no matter what their positions, should resist the urge to gossip. 

Why is gossip so detrimental?

Gossip is one of those stigmas that few want to align themselves with, especially on the job or in the workplace. 

“When you or someone else is labeled as the ‘office gossip,’ you know it’s not a compliment. It paints a picture of how others view you,” said Kali Wolken, a licensed professional counselor and certified career counselor in Grand Rapids, Mich. 

business people at desks in office

Gossip at work breaks down trust — which can dramatically affect the office dynamic.

Gossip breaks down trust — and in a work setting, that can affect the entire office dynamic. 

“A large part of gossip is that you are sharing secrets that you have no right to share,” added Wolken. 

“And when you share these secrets, it’s gossip, and you are ultimately telling those around you that you cannot be trusted with other important information.”

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When trust begins to break down, Wolken said others will question additional areas of trust — such as your reliability, integrity or accountability. 

“And when trust crumbles, this also means that those who would stand beside or behind you in support feel more cautious about putting themselves in that place of risk,” she said.

corporate office leadership

To curb gossip at work, experts advise workers to control their own actions first — and think long-term about their careers.

“This can impact references for new jobs or opportunities for promotions — and can even lead to you being let go if the company needs to downsize.”

How do you curb the urge to gossip?

First, control your own actions, experts advise

Begin by asking yourself about the information you want to share. 

Pose these internal questions, suggested Wolken: Is the information yours to share? Did the other person give you permission to share it? And what is the point of sharing the information at all? 

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“If you don’t have permission and if the point is not to get support for the parties involved, then don’t share it,” she said.

workers at charitable foundation

“Most of us gossip because we want to be part of the ‘in group,’” said a career expert.  (iStock)

Second, resist the urge to join the gossip bandwagon — and dig deeper into your own motivation to gossip.

“Most of us gossip because we want to be part of the ‘in group,’ but being part of a group that tears down others is often less advantageous than having the trust of co-workers and our supervisors,” said Wolken.

How can you shut down colleagues who gossip?

When your colleagues or coworkers — or anyone at work — gossip about someone else, you have clear options for how to respond.

“You can show them that you don’t want to take part by stepping away from the conversation,” noted Amy Morin, a psychotherapist based in the Florida Keys who is author of the book, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” and host of the “The Verywell Mind” podcast.

Or you might excuse yourself and say something about how you need to get back to work or take care of an issue, said Morin. 

team of young people discussing business plan

If others at work are gossiping, stepping away from the conversation sends a clear message. 

“This can send a strong message without directly confronting coworkers.”

You also might speak up and address the issue head-on. 

Morin suggested saying something like, “I am not comfortable talking about our colleagues without inviting them to be part of the conversation.”

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Of course, when you step away from the conversation, you might become the target for gossip yourself — but speaking up shows that you’re not willing to take part. 

“Gossip can hurt your success because it can become a distraction to your career development.”

“It may also help others to recognize what’s going on,” said Morin.

How does gossip hurt your career progress? 

Not only does gossiping mark you as untrustworthy — gossiping makes you look desperate, said Morin. 

“It signals to other people that the only way you can feel as though you’re climbing the social hierarchy is by putting others down,” Morin said. 

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In addition, Michelle Enjoli, a career development coach and speaker based in Atlanta, said gossip can hurt your success because it can become a distraction to your career development. 

“Gossiping can drastically reduce the amount of time you have to learn as much as possible.”

A great motivator for stopping the urge to gossip at work is refocusing your energy on career development activities, said Enjoli.

“Gossip can become a source of discontent and bitterness that can cloud your judgment on your own career decisions and hurt your personal brand,” Enjoli explained.

“Gossiping can drastically reduce the amount of time you have to learn as much as possible.”

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Instead, rather than gossiping, Enjoli said workers should spend time adding value to their organization — and creating meaningful connections with others in the workplace.

And that, for sure, is a much more positive and forward-thinking way to spend time and energy.



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