You might avoid gossiping about your co-workers, boss, or anyone else this holiday season, but staying mum is difficult. Gossip at work results in low morale, reduced productivity, and occasional disciplinary action. Regarding chattering at work this holiday, remember that it might not be what you say but to whom you say it. You can even spot gossip by looking for the following behaviors:
- The tone of the conversation. With gossip, people tend to speak in hushed tones. What might appear as a small negative comment about a colleague can quickly escalate into gossip.
- Claims without sources. Talk of potential layoffs, news of unethical behavior, and other unpleasant stories spread like fire around an office. It is difficult to find the actual source of these rumors.
- The topic of the conversation is typically unaware of the gossip. If the talk ceases when the person is present, there is a great chance it is gossip.
Never Vent to Someone You Do Not Trust
If you want to get suckered into an inappropriate conversation with a colleague you do not know well, give them an “in.” When you start sharing your opinions on people in your office, spreading a rumor about someone in your department, or even discussing your recent job search, you are allowing your colleagues to use you as a source of information.
Keep your thoughts to yourself! Only share information with non-work friends or close office pals. Speaking with a co-worker, you do not know well? Stick to non-controversial topics only. While on the clock, be selective with whom you share information. Speak to the wrong person, and you will be smack dab in the middle of workplace drama.
Know How to Identify Trigger Situations and Topics
It is advantageous for you to train your ears to hear when gossip is about to come around. Ear training helps you to prepare for such conversations. Watch for common intro techniques such as “I’m going to tell you some news, but you can’t tell anyone else” and other standards. Stay sharp and be ready to divert it. Let these cues be your sign to disengage from a conversation.
Change the Subject
It is awkward to cut off a co-worker mid-sentence when they are gossiping. However, you can change the subject to something more appropriate. This holiday season, gossip needs a captive audience to be effective. Do not be part of the audience. Regardless of the topic, lead the conversation to a better place with a smooth change of subject.
Workplace gossip is part of any organization. However, you do not need to be part of spreading information in your office, whether true or not. Use good judgment this holiday season.
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