Working with a Gossip

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When we talk about gossiping and spreading rumors, we often think of people with nothing better to do. Surprisingly, research supports the fact that workplace rumors are usually true.

But work drama caused by gossiping and “stirring the pot” is common and expensive as I discuss in this recent FOX TV appearance:

There is a difference between rumors and gossip. Rumors are bits of information that are spread without being verified. Gossip focuses more on talking about other people without a specific purpose. Interestingly, people who gossip are doing it to connect with others and get attention.

Are you tired of toxic coworkers who constantly complain and then take credit for all of your work?

Have you ever found out someone talked about you behind your back but then said something different to your face?

This may sound like middle school – but we all know an Office Gossip. These coworkers are:

  • Quick to take credit, even for others’ work.

  • Always striving for the spotlight.

  • Spreaders of negative information about others.

  • Unlikely to take blame for their own mistakes.

  • Jealous and vindictive of attention their coworkers receive.

In my book Stop Complainers and Energy Drainers I reveal actions that don’t work with Gossips:

  • Putting them on the spot. When put on the spot a gossip will deflect, leave, or shutdown the conversation.

  • Asking them to be rational. Gossips are relationship-driven, not logical. Asking them to validate their claims with rational thinking is a waste of time and energy.

To effectively work with and manage the Office Gossip:

  • Acknowledge what they say. Then, let them know consequences that can result from the information they are spreading.

  • Publicize their role. Make everyone aware of the Gossip’s individual role and responsibilities on the team – and the intended outcomes. Publicizing a gossip’s role can decrease the potential for excuses and embarrass if the job isn’t performed.

  • Don’t get lost in the drama. Insist on problem-solving conversations instead of ones based on opinions and rumors. Problem-solving conversation techniques include asking, “What are you going to do about that?” and “How can you make the best of this situation?” And, “Wow. Taking all the factors you just told me into consideration, what will you do to still meet the deadline?”

As you navigate working with the Office Gossip remember they want attention. Remind them that receiving positive recognition for a job well done is better than being noticed for a reputation of not meeting commitments and creating a negative impression.

Negotiate to Great!

About Linda: A recognized authority on negotiations, workplace issues and strategic communication, Linda Swindling, JD, CSP is an author, media expert, a “recovering” employment attorney, and a professional speaker. Contact us to book Linda to speak at your event.