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November 26, 2007

The Dangers Of Office Gossip

By Jennifer Towers

Whether you’re the one doing all the talking or just standing around by the water cooler and listening, office gossip can be detrimental to your career. Things can get even worse if you’re the main topic of the gossip circulating the office.

Not only can office gossip harm a person’s career, it can also create a hostile work environment, and no one enjoys going to work when that’s the order of the day.

Of course, there are times when it’s good to know what’s going on around the office, so long as it has to do with business. Being “out of the loop” can lend itself to hindering your advancement at work.

What you need to learn to do is ignore the “Sally is a slut” talk and pay close attention to the fact that Joanne is resigning next week and her job is up for grabs.

But if you had a choice to know absolutely everything about what’s going on in the office or to know absolutely nothing, it’s probably safer too go with the latter because the minute you overhear someone badmouthing someone else, you will be implicated when the feces hits the fan.

So what can you do to avoid being involved in and contributing to office gossip? Well, here’s some valuable advice to get you started.

Office gossip tip #1
Don’t agree or disagree

Sometimes you will end up overhearing or being involved in a conversation about Sheryl and her torrid affair with the married guy in accounting. These things will occur from time to time, unless, of course, you become completely antisocial at work.

The only thing you can do is say nothing. And, above and beyond all else, do not agree or disagree about whether or not Sheryl is a skank because that will make you a contributor to the gossip, which can spell the end of your climb up the ladder.

Office gossip tip #2
Don’t hang around the office gossip

There might be many secrets being whispered about around your office, but there’s no doubt as to who the 4-1-1 is, and, although it’s in your best interest to be nice to this person, you do not, under any circumstance, want to be associated with them.

You need to be nice to them because they will probably end up circulating stories about you if you’re not, and you don’t want to be too nice because others may begin to avoid you for fear of anyone finding out about their potential skeletons.

And I don’t think I need to tell you, but just in case you have a moment of weakness, don’t tell this person anything about your personal life unless you enjoy being shot with your own gun.

Office gossip tip #3
Remember that everyone’s a rat
Even if their intentions are good, no woman wants to go down as the “rotten bitch who speaks ill of others,” so if they can implicate others in their guilt, you can bet they will.

Whether you’re out for drinks after work or are just talking about Jim and his itchy crotch in passing, there’s a good chance that if the person you’re speaking with speaks with someone else, your name will be mentioned. Keeping your mouth shut and your ears open is always your best bet.

Office gossip tip #4
Don’t badmouth anyone

We all have bad days, no doubt, but even if your boss is the biggest prick this side of porn, you should do your best not to run off at the mouth to the first person you run into.

In anger, we tend to say things we don’t mean, but what we sometimes don’t realize is that, once they’re said, we can’t take them back. And if you must tell someone how angry you are, call your boyfriend or your best friend and do your bitching.

Speaking ill of anyone at work to your colleagues will not help you in any way.

Office gossip tip #5
Don’t chastise gossipers
People who gossip thrive off it and if you even attempt to put a stop to it via a confrontation, chances are that things will not work out in your favor.

Not only will this person begin to badmouth you and perhaps even make things up about you, but there’s a good chance that others will believe them, making you seem like a terrible woman.

Your best bet is to be nice to these kinds of people and steer clear of them as often as you can.

Office gossip tip #6
Deal with rumors about you ASAP

If rumors begin to swirl about your recent need to tell your colleague that your boss is incompetent (or even impotent), it’s up to you to clear your name by confronting the persons involved. If you don’t deal with it, things may get worse.

Without starting an argument, simply tell the parties that matter that the rumors are false and you would simply like to clear the air. If the gossip is not false, however, you need to own up to what you did and apologize.

Office gossip tip #7
Remember that everyone has an agenda
There are a sneaky few in every company whose sole mission is to plant seeds in your head and others’ heads in order to create conflict and come out on top of the situation.

If anyone ever eggs you on about what you think of so and so, be the bigger woman and say only good things - even if you don’t mean them. It’s better to be a hypocrite and be respected than to be honest and be disliked.

Avoid office gossip

The best thing you can do in any situation is to listen 95% of the time and speak only 5% of the time. This way, you can ensure that you won’t say anything you’ll regret and maintain your good reputation.

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