Spend any time with a group of people and you’re going to hear gossip. In fact, there’s so much gossip flying around that most people just accept it as a part of life. The TV characters we love provide us with step-by-step guidelines on how to gossip. Newsstands are full of evidence that nothing is off limits when it comes to gossip. And even though we instinctively know that gossiping is not a good thing, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and entertainment of a good piece of juicy gossip.
One reason this happens is because there’s a fine line between discussing the facts of a situation and speculating about all the grey areas surrounding it. And anyone who works more than a couple of hours a day knows that people in the workplace talk about a lot more than business. Not getting caught up in the gossip going around the office can be a challenge. In some work environments, it probably feels safer to stay in the gossip loop than to risk stepping away from it and becoming someone who’s gossiped about.
Sadly, we don’t have the power to stop our co-workers from gossiping. Fortunately, we have absolute control over whether we do or don’t participate and/or contribute to the gossip grapevine. Here are a few strategies to help you steer clear of a gossip grapevine.
1. Own 100% of what you say. This can be trickier than it sounds because sometimes we have information that other people aren’t privy to, and the thought of showing our co-workers that we’re “in the know” can be very compelling. Before you share, simply ask yourself who benefits from adding you’re inside information to the conversation. If it’s you, your status, or your ego, then don’t share.
2. When you’re tempted to contribute to a conversation, consider these questions too:
· Will the information I have contribute something positive and/or worthwhile to the conversation?
· Is the information I have public knowledge or the result of a shared confidence?
· Could I just as easily talk to the person or people the information I have is about without a second thought?3. When you realize you’ve stepped into a gossip grapevine, step out of it. Just because you’re around gossip, doesn’t mean you have to stick around. Work projects, problems, issues, and deadlines are all legitimate excuses for walking away from the gossip zone without stepping on anyone’s gossip-prone toes.
4. Remember that gossip isn’t limited to secretive conversations around the proverbial water cooler. Take care with your comments in voicemails, emails, and other Internet platforms. You don’t want your words to be misinterpreted as gossip by the recipient simply because they couldn’t see your facial expressions, or body language, or hear your tone of voice.
Gossip in the workplace can become a serious problem. It can ruin reputations and careers in a manner of minutes. But it’s also one of those situations where you get to choose between being part of the problem or part of the solution. Now that you’re “in the know”, where will you stand? Will I hear it through the grapevine?
Alan Luoma is a Sales Coach with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, new product development, sales and product training. He works part time with a national sustainable packaging company with their distributors to increase sales. Alan is an expert that speaks on eliminating behaviors that prevent you from being successful in sales and uncovering sales prevention departments that hinder your success. He is a member of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network, The National Speakers Association and New England Speakers Association. You can view his profile on LinkedIn, or contact him at Luoma@snet.net