we’ve all been here… trapped in the work break room, trying to dodge gossipy “Gail”. in the moment, wishing you would have opted for that smaller water bottle you were eyeing at the store…
water break small talk is great for morale and building relationships with coworkers. But if it turns to gossip it’s counterproductive. Have you ever noticed that after your ears are “exposed” to gossip, you feel a bit less positive and excited? that’s because energy is contagious, and gossip is a negative energy. it adds no value, and it simply creates an untrusting environment hindering teamwork and productivity.
As a naturally curious person, I love listening, but hate gossip because of the way it makes me feel. I always feel bad for the person who is being talked about. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way for the next time you’re caught in a “gossipy” situation…
- Change the subject. Simple enough, right? Don’t engage. Don’t validate the information. Be sure not to listen too long or even shake your head in agreement. Interrupt, if you must. A good way to do this is by asking a work related question the gossiper is knowledgeable about. For example: Oh Lisa, I actually needed your help with this project. What software did you use for…?
- Ask the gossiper, “how do you know that”? This can catch them off guard and throw the conversation off giving you the perfect escape route to change the subject.
- Leave the room for that meeting, phone call, etc. you must take care of. Or if stuck at your desk, let them know you have an important call to take and will have to chat later.
There is nothing greater or more valuable than your time. Make sure you use it wisely. If you find you’re the subject of gossip, don’t get down or feel the need to get even. Your actions will speak to your character. Show people who you are, and the naysayers won’t have much to stand on. How do you handle office gossip? What has worked and what hasn’t? Do you like when people share gossip with you?