Workplace Gossip: 3 Easy Steps to Keeping it Professional

Taking part in workplace gossip is a sure way to lose friends. Being on the receiving end of workplace gossip can also be quite isolating. Regardless of the industry or career path, work place gossip is surprisingly quite common, despite it’s detrimental affects. So how to avoid it and keep things professional?

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The first agreement in Ruiz and Ruiz book entitled The 5th Agreement is ‘be impeccable with your word.’ Make this your mantra at work and in life and in particular as you continue to read through the 3 tips I have for you on how to avoid gossip in the workplace.

1. Keep Cool as a Cucumber

If a colleague begins to unload their issues with someone else on you, listen with compassion and change the subject. If they aren’t quite getting the hint, respond with “I understand you are upset’ or phrases that acknowledge their experience of the event, however do not agree or disagree to the events that they are sharing with you. Be indifferent to their gossip. No need to be rude, simply don’t engage.

It’s hard enough having to juggle the responsibilities and dramas that life already throws your way, so there is no need to take on more than you can carry. It is extremely unprofessional, and only creates unnecessary tension and stress between individuals when they should be working as a team.

Try and keep conversation purely to positive chit chat. Be mindful of the people you are working with. No matter how angry you feel when you hear gossip or have been wronged by, lashing out is only going to make things worse. Unfortunately, you’ll most likely come off as the one in the wrong even when you’re not. Meditation, team building activities, or an art as therapy class can help you and your colleagues to relax and let off some steam, allowing you all to get on with things and keep it positive. It is a great step toward developing a happier, self-sustainable work place.
2. Learn to Forgive

If you have been the victim of idle workplace gossip, and it is not coming across as work place bullying, it might be best to forgive that colleague. This is a tricky one, and not something that many people feel they can do. But think of it like this. Your work doesn’t define you, nor do the people you work with. And realistically speaking, you are going to have to spend a lot of time with your team mates, possibly for years, so you’re better off making things amicable if you can.

Often we crave support from those around us – it’s validating to know others are on our side. Remember that when you’re at work, though, you’re in a professional environment. Fuelling the office rumour mill will only make things more toxic and lead to people getting hurt. It is a much more sustainable and positive decision to approach the situation with an open mind and willingness to listen. Rather than strive to win the argument, aim to resolve the problem and clarify any uncertainties.

That being said, sometimes the case is more sinister, and you may feel that you are being harassed by an individual in the workplace. You do not have to deal with this in or outside of your professional environment, and it might be time to consult human resources. Serious workplace conflicts should be managed through HR and proper grievance procedures. If you feel threatened or intimidated by a colleague, have a chat to them and know that they are under strict guidelines to keep your situation completely confidential. Don’t stay silent if you don’t feel safe!

3. Avoid Passive-Aggressiveness

Let’s be honest. We’ve all found ourselves at one point or another, tempted to stick a post-it note on a colleagues desk, kindly suggesting they keep their shoes on while at the desk. If you find yourself seriously considering buying those post-it notes, it’s definitely time to opt for an open conversation. Without facing the conflict in a civil, calm manner, we are only allowing it to brew and become worse than it ever was.

How? Improve communication in the workplace. This is one of the biggest flaws in almost every single workplace, but one that doesn’t have to exist. All it takes is a little bit of time and asking of the right questions to optimise relationships and communication in the workplace. Questioning involves exploring creative thinking techniques that support personal development and growth, which can be used to substantially improve communication in the workplace.

Business owners and managers take note – workplace bullying costs businesses billions! Our advice? Avoid it completely! Improving work place morale and communication is a great way for business owners to prevent these negative habits from even forming, resulting in less stress, less drama, and no work place tension. This means a stronger team spirit, happier individuals, and a consistent work flow.

Some avenues to explore in order to best improve workplace communication are positive psychology, art as therapy, creativity, experimental thinking, body storming, mindfulness, and meditation. It all comes down to the individuals as well as the team.

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