by Prunella de Pedant
“Who gossips with you will gossip of you” - Irish saying
We all do it. We all adore it. But it’s wrong, very wrong - especially in the workplace.
Gossip is omnipresent, especially in our modern world where information is readily available at our fingertips and images can be sent with a little click of a button on our ever-connected gadgetry.
People (not so gentle) post photographs of celebrities or inappropriate moments at private events. It’s difficult to avoid and almost certainly quite enjoyable - even if it’s at the expense of others.
Gossip is almost innate, even from a very young age when we might exchange notes - or now send digital missives by text or instant messaging (here, I show my age).
Sharing secrets can be very innocent as we all love to learn something new. However, the act of gossip can be most cruel if not damaging.
It’s best to avoid on a social level, but especially in one’s work environment. Gossip can be turned and twisted and - more often than not - the person who is being gossiped about will find out and the source will usually be be discovered
Here a few genteel tips on avoiding gossip in the workplace:
- Avoid gossip. If you encounter a group of people who are already engaged in this often vulgar discourse. Get your coffee or water from the cooler, smile and gently walk away from the situation.
- Laugh it off and don’t contribute. We cannot deny that an innocent exchange can be amusing, but don’t engage in any further discourse. It is far from genteel to be speaking ill of colleagues - think of how you would feel.
- Don’t start the rumour mill. You may have an issue with a workmate, but the worst thing is to speak to others not involved (as they will inevitably continue the chain). A gentle emotional release to someone you trust is one thing, a toxic one is an entirely different beast. It is better to approach your colleague directly and discuss the issue - you may even laugh off the tension together and work towards a resolution (this is ideal).
- Some people say that women spread gossip faster than men. This proclamation is quite simply clichéd. Both men and women adore sharing secrets and so begins the game of broken telephone. Apply the no gossip rule to both men and women.
- Just remember: the person you may gossip with will more than likely gossip about you. Know who your friends and allies are, and steer clear of any temptations.
- Finally, if you have inadvertenly said something that is malapropos, then please do apologise to the person who you’ve been speaking ill of.
Gossip can be hurtful and should be avoided in our personal lives, but almost even more importantly in our professional ones. It is important to focus on one’s day job and pay very close attention to our decorum and social graces.