How to deal with the office gossip

18 September 2012 -


The Office Gossip is one of the most challenging workplace characters. Polly Mainds brings you five tips for dealing with them

The office bigmouth is often one of the most difficult characters to cope with in your working environment. While overhauling this bombastic and indiscreet personality would be the ideal answer, coping strategies are perhaps a more achievable suggestion…

1. Set a good example

It is possible to create a circle of morality in order to reduce gossip in the office as a whole. If you abstain from providing them with unsavoury gossip about your colleagues, then your colleagues are likely to follow suit, with the potential that this would prevent any gossip about you or anyone else – whether true or false – from ricocheting around the office. You can’t expect other people to keep your secret if you can’t keep one yourself.

2. Don’t indulge in their gossip  

It is important that you set an example. If you want to stop them from being a bigmouth it is vital that you are as angelic as possible. If they come to you on the pretext of gossip you must decline to participate in the conversation, demonstrating your claim to the moral high ground.

3. Be nice to them 

Remember that bigmouths often have low self-esteem and gossip in order to bring people down to their level. They feel powerless and this is the only way for them to establish an element of power. By complimenting them you may be able to boost their confidence and reduce their need to gossip. 

4. Use them to your advantage 

You have a piece of information that you want to be heard, but you don’t want to be the one to disseminate it – this one of the few occasions the office bigmouth can be of help to you. If you give them this piece of information “in confidence” you know that it will be almost instantaneously spread around your office without you being the one to promote it. This could be used for positive pieces of information such as the fact that you have started a relationship with a co-worker – you want the information out, but don’t want to be seen to be bragging. 

5. Don’t be afraid to use confrontation

All of the above suggestions are ways to circumnavigate the problem; however, sometimes it is better to simply hit the nail on the head. Sometimes being direct and confronting the Gossip is the best way to deal with problems: essentially, tell the Gossip that you do not want to enter into negative discussions or tittle-tattle about people behind their back.

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