"Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events but it is the small mind that discusses people." - Eleanor Roosevelt
Gossip has the tendency to die the moment it enters the ears of a wise person. One who is responsible, reputable and respected will never entertain such a cynical behavior. However, this tacky habit of discussing and criticizing people is a part and parcel of each and every workplace.
It is believed that successful people build each other up, but they are the unsuccessful ones who complain, blame and hate. However, if you are stuck in this swampy ground but want to get out of it, then you will actually have to learn the rules and start molding them according to your liking. Therefore, this is how you can avoid office gossip and be at peace with your surroundings.
The office gossip is common like grass that springs up at just any place. And it actually is negativity spreading in the workplace environment. It might be tempting, but if someone can gossip with you, they can even gossip about you. And is how you can gracefully free yourself from this vicious circle without even others letting it know.
#1. Practice Commitment
Commit yourself to the goal of not letting in any kind of invalidating talks. I know it is a human nature to desire, to know the secrets that keep flowing around. And insider details are actually tempting. But is that what we are here for at the workplace. Sure it can be entertaining, but when things start going over the board, are they under your control?
Confronting and overcoming such an urge is difficult when everyone around you is doing the same. But when you are committed to not indulge in a particular activity, then nothing can actually stop you. Listen to it and if you just cannot control the desire, but at least try and not spread it around. Do not turn into a messenger. Office gossips don't always have to be two-way.
#2. Accept That You Can Learn To Walk Away
Yes, even if the office gossip is happening right in front of your eyes, you can still avoid and not be a part of it. You just have to learn to walk away from such situations. It can be both awkward as well as difficult for you to take such a step but remind yourself that the group gossiping right in front of you can also cook rumors about you at any later stage. So, it is important for you to separate yourself from the situation and deny being a part of the conversation. Let them know of a reason and just vanish. For instance, tell them that you have a deadline and that you do not have the time to talk. This way, you give them a specific reason with a clear message, and you withdraw the discussion.
Be the person who stays away from chatty situations and the gossiping mongers. If you feel you are being isolated at work, then let me tell you that you do not even deserve to be around such wicked people. Gossip isn't the only talk that happens at the workplace. There are several other ways in which you can indulge with your colleagues.
#3. Practice How You Can Navigate The Gossip
Even this approach works best when you want to not get involved in office politics. When a co-worker pops over his head from the other side of the divider, you know he is there to whisper something that would distract you. You know that he is there to gossip. So, before he takes his conversation forward, throw at him some sort of a responsibility or another subject. By this, he is bound to change the topic of discussion. You have to in no way give rise to office gossips as that is what turns into severe office politics.
But, under certain circumstances, that kinky co-worker cannot get over with his urge. What can you do now? Ask him to discuss the things after work! This way, you would not even sound offensive and neither would you frustrate him. And congratulations - you are now a skilled employee of the organization who can easily change the subject of a gossip and shut it down from affecting you in any manner.
#4. Speak Directly With The Gossip Initiator
This step can be undertaken in both the cases - when the gossip is about you and when it is about someone else. If you think the gossip is just another rumor or something you don't want to spread around, directly talk with the gossip initiator and get them in a one-on-one conversation. Remember not to get aggressive when confronting them. You need to maintain your cool and be polite when approaching. Opt for such words and statements that will surely make the other person realize his/ her mistake.
For instance, in case it is a false rumor that you have come to know about, confront the person who started spreading it and let them know that their behavior is pretty inappropriate and that they have hurt you to the core. Also, let such people know that you thought they might not be a part of office politics, but that is what exactly they have been doing. Tell them how the gossip isn't true at all and that what they have been spreading is just not the way things should be. If a certain gossip is true, tell them how you bestowed confidence in them and shared the issue. But it appears that they are resorting to unacceptable behavior by spreading it around in the office. Tell them that you will appreciate if they stop doing so. And you are actually the only one who should be sending this message across to the one who really needs to know it.
#5. You Can Emphasize On The Positivity
Be the person who is more concerned about the positive part of a conversation. Master it as a rule of thumb and make it a habit to discuss others in a positive light. Be the one who always has something kind and emphatic to say. Because when others start to see only a good attitude coming from your side, sometimes they too start following you.
Even when others are wanting to discuss someone negatively, you can be the one who continues the discussion from a different angle. This way, you don't only maintain perspectives, but also eradicate the cancerous gossips from your environment. And even you know that office gossips are not like a common cold. They may persistently keep rising from stage one to stage four. So, you don't have to overreact but handle the matter with care.
#6. Analyse How The Gossips Can Be Made Use Of
It can be hurtful to hear gossips about your own self. But don't you think something in that conversation can also be made use of. Gossiping isn't productive at all, but you can still assume it to be a gift in disguise. And not all the things that keep circling around the water cooler can be forged. There surely can be something that can be perceived as an important insight about how the other people see you.
You do not have to get disheartened, but understand that it is the same perspective which affects the desire for people to work with you or not. Just try and look out for the commonly occurring patterns that make others talk about and go against you. You don't always have to assume that gossip means you are growing. At times, there are genuine issues that need to be addressed. And it can be through gossips that you can realize have some substance if truth.
#7. Maybe It's Time To Report The Gossip
It is in no time that gossips can turn into workplace harassments. So, how to avoid office gossip that it does not start killing you? Make sure you do not let it cross the line and nip the problem in the bud. And here is when you need to understand that certain matters cannot be sorted alone. You will have to take help from your superiors or the HR head.
In severe cases, do not hesitate to approach even the higher authorities. If the person who gossips about you or someone else is going beyond an agreeable level and you think there is no use of confrontation, take help from the significant authorities present in the organization. Don't let the things get unpleasant. The moment you document such a scenario, take no time and report the same. You never know you might just save yourself or the other person from drowning into the dirty pool of politics and harassment.
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