Office gossip may seem like harmless tattle telling at first but has the potential to wreck serious damage on a company. There will always be rumor spreaders in every work environment. It only becomes a major issue when it crosses the line from little rumors about the company to rumors about people’s private lives. Gossip,most times stems from speculation about others. This speculation leads to often exaggerated lies, fine-tuned stories that are intended to paint others in a bad light.
Beyond being a total time waster, gossip could stir conflict causing tension at work which could adversely affect the productivity of the company as a whole. To an individual, it may have a more lingering effect attacking either the individual’s confidence or reputation (if not both). Most times you have to just ‘take it’ and pretend not to be affected by it but other times, it simply goes out of hand and you become worried. Well, the best way to tackle any problem is to uproot it so it doesn’t come back again.
Here are ways to handle the office gossiper, the one who’s been talking behind your back.
Find the culprit
When people are spreading lies about you, you’re more likely than not going to be the last to find out about it. Though there are always not-so-subtle indicators that you’re being talked about for instance people stop talking when you come in or people keep sneaking peeks at your office and giggle afterward. This can get uncomfortable. The first step to resolving this matter is finding the culprit. It may be hard to do but you eventually always find out who started the rumor. The office gossip is normally a good place to start looking.
Address him or her in a non-confrontational manner
Office gossip has an even bigger impact now, no thanks to social media. What started as a little rumor in the office has now spread to Facebook, Instagram and other networks though they tend to ease the blow by not mentioning names or by indirect speech. Regardless everyone within the office, at a glance at such post knows exactly who or what is being referred to.
After figuring out who is responsible for the rumor spread, address him or her in a non-confrontational manner. This might prove difficult since most culprits will instantly go into defense mode. Try an indirect approach like “hey, have you heard what they’re saying about me, it’s rather funny”. This will give them the opportunity to redeem themselves. Avoid losing your temper, raising your voice or getting physical.
Don’t give them the satisfaction
The major aim of gossip is to have fun at your expense. To you though, it may be embarrassing or humiliating. The best way to win this ‘battle’ is by beating your opponent at his own game. Don’t give them the satisfaction of being embarrassed. Don’t even seem bothered by it. Whenever it comes up, you can laugh it off or brush it aside like you have more important matters to tend to. This will shut them up for good. When they don’t get the reaction they are looking for, they’ll be on to the next target.
Learn a valuable lesson from it
Gossip normally stems from people’s perception of you or their opinion of your current situation. Remember we earlier said it’s often a result of speculation. You might have also let a piece of information slip about yourself that fueled this gossip. Think about it, this is an excellent opportunity to find out what your colleagues think of you. This way, you can draw insights on what to change or improve about yourself. See? It is a golden opportunity.
This has to be the final alternative and you have to be smart about it. Before you go to your boss or a superior with a story like ‘he said’ or ‘she said’, make sure that the topic is worth reporting. It should be something that could defame you or disrupt work. Next, ensure you know the culprit and have evidence to prove them guilty or at least two witnesses on your side. It will even be more advantageous if you let your boss know that you’d been letting similar cases go and that you already addressed the culprit to no avail.
All in all, handle this matter with maturity and try not to take it to heart. Also avoid situations that could put you at the center of the rumor mill again. Keep smiling and don’t let it daunt you.