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Marble Jar Gang Career Counseling: Workplace Gossip

The basic premise or formula is to recognize that when your skills + traits + behaviors are placed in the right environment the outcome will give you a greater chance of success and happiness in your work.

Let’s assume that you have personally listened to gossip from your co-workers and possibly have been the target of that gossip and maybe even shared gossip. In all three of these scenarios we believe you know it is a negative problem that will waste your productive time, take you down rabbit holes you do not want to be in and ruin people’s reputations, companies morale and denigrate a workplace so that people leave voluntarily to remove themselves from the vitriol.

There, we said it. We are ANTI-GOSSIP to our core. At the Marble Jar Gang, we have coached more individuals on what has been said about them versus what has actually been done by them. Dealing with the culture of gossiping in a company will not be your responsibility to turn around. What you do ‘own’ is your response to this aberrant behavior. We offer a few tips that have worked for our clients who want to differentiate themselves from this ugly cultural phenomenon. (it is understood that if you are reading this you maybe the problem, but the ‘problem makers’ rarely want to fix their issue). We begin at the root.

· Companies often have a policy on ethics and have posted guidelines. This is a starting place to do your homework and after your research place one marble in your jar. However, we do not suggest you are to become the company ‘torch-bearer’ for the cultural issues you are observing. If you seriously desire to alienate yourself from the gossip-chain, then this post is for you.

· If you feel awkward or uncomfortable about the information you are given from a gossipmonger you will need to take actions, even if you have been receptive of the gossip in the past. Start to change now!

1. Be busy. Do not accept a visit to your workspace by signaling with your ‘stop’ hand that something is going on and continue your conversation (phone/computer).

2. When others approach you with the gossip, turn it around to a positive as in the fact that you have been super busy and can not possibly take the time for this. Be firm and yet smiling. Disengage immediately. Gossipmongers love attention and this deflates the balloon they hope to inflate in their process.

3. Consider carefully when you share your private life or work-related issues with anyone that has gossiped in your presence so that you will not be the next topic. Work is not where you share all your information; see how your CEO speaks wisely and model that. Choose co-worker alliances who do the same.

4. Be direct. Tell the nagging gossipmonger that you are uncomfortable with the dialogue and it is not healthy for you.

5. If the gossipmonger is your manager then follow the steps 1-4 and if nothing changes look to HR and a possible job change, including a transfer in the company.

You know we are not talking about idle chatter, chit-chat and harmless jokes. Gossip rejoices in others misfortune, perpetuates conflict and does damage often with unsubstantiated rumors. It is toxic producing anxiety and tension and spreads like the flu. Turn your back on it the moment you see it.

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