How to Deal with Office Gossip

Office gossip is a seemingly harmless pastime that provides fodder for lunchtime conversations and breaks by the water cooler. But the truth is that gossip is destructive to the atmosphere and morale of an office setting. It can hurt feelings, damage reputations and even end in legal action. Read the tips listed below and learn how to deal with office gossip.

  • Evaluate the harm It's inevitable that people will talk about each other. Completely stopping all conversations about coworkers is an unrealistic expectation in most settings. Listen to the gossip traveling throughout the office. If it's harmless chatter about an employee's new car, don't get involved. Embarrassing employees over trivial gossip may do more harm than the gossip itself [source: Summerhurst].
  • Change the subject When the office's main gossip wants to tell you a juicy piece of information, simply change the subject. If the gossip realizes that you aren't interested in listening to his news, he will no longer include you in his gossip ring [source: Rau-Foster].
  • Instate new policies If the gossip in your office is getting out of hand, instate an office policy that bans gossip. The culprits may not even be aware that their gossip is harming their coworkers. Discussing the topic of gossip and bringing it to the forefront will make employees more aware of what they say and will make them think twice before speaking [source: Summerhurst].
  • Approach the disseminator If gossip is a chronic problem in your office, approach the gossip disseminators and ask them to have a chat. Without blaming them, inform them that you are frustrated with the chronic gossip. Ask them to pay attention to the topics they discuss in the office and to recognize that some topics may be hurtful to other employees [source: Bredemeier].