If you've ever been the victim of workplace gossip, you know just how hurtful and damaging it can be. Not only does it make you feel isolated and alone, but it can also damage your professional reputation. And if you're the one doing the gossiping, well, then you're likely to alienate your coworkers and damage your own career.
So why do people gossip? Unfortunately, it's often a way to feel better about ourselves. When we gossip, we're often trying to make ourselves feel superior to the person we're gossiping about. For others, gossiping is a way to bond with others. We gossip because we want to be accepted and feel like we belong.
But regardless of the motive, gossiping is always destructive. It creates an environment of distrust and suspicion, and it can destroy careers. Even if you've never experienced it firsthand, you probably know that gossiping about your coworkers is generally considered to be a bad idea.
In fact, there are some very good reasons why you should avoid complaining about your coworkers behind their backs. Here are 5 of them and tips for how to avoid gossiping:
1. It's Unprofessional
Gossiping about your coworkers is simply unprofessional. It shows that you can't handle conflict in a mature, productive way and that you're not respectful of other people's privacy. It also creates unnecessary and unhealthy tension in the workplace.
When you gossip about your coworkers, you're effectively saying that you don't trust them - and that's not a good way to build positive working relationships.
2. It Can Damage Your Career
Gossiping about your coworkers can damage your career in a number of ways. First of all, it's likely to alienate your coworkers. If they find out that you've been gossiping about them, they're not going to want to work with you. This behavior will get back to your boss and leadership team, and will likely limit your career growth potential.
The ability to work effectively with other people is essential for success in any organization, so if you are a negative influence in working with others, you will likely have a difficult time working with others and advancing your career.
In addition, gossiping about your coworkers can damage your professional reputation. If people see you as a gossip, they're not going to trust you with important information. They'll also be less likely to want to work with you, which can limit your opportunities for advancement.
3. It's Destructive
Gossiping about your coworkers is destructive to both them and you. It creates an environment of distrust and suspicion and can lead to false rumors and misunderstandings. It's also a form of bullying and can make your coworkers feel isolated, alone, and unvalued.
If you're known as the office gossip, it can damage your reputation and make it difficult for people to take you seriously. No one wants to work with someone who they can't trust to keep their confidence. When they realize that you will talk about them in the same way you are talking about another co-worker, they will likely avoid you.
This will make it hard for you to build strong, productive relationships with your coworkers - and that's not good for your career.
4. It Can Create an Unhappy Work Environment
Gossiping about your coworkers can create an unhappy work environment for everyone involved. No one wants to work in an office where they feel like they can't trust their colleagues. The work environment you have is a reflection of the way people treat each other and if you're known as a gossip, it can make the workplace a very unpleasant place to be.
Most people who gossip are miserable about the work environment but they rarely realize they are a key reason for the toxicity. Gossip is one of the quickest ways to poison the well in any workplace and creates unnecessary drama and strife.
5. It Can Get You Fired
In some cases, gossiping about your coworkers can actually get you fired. If your boss finds out that you're spreading rumors or sharing confidential information, they may decide that you're not a good fit for the company and let you go.
Gossiping can also get you into legal trouble if you spread false information about a coworker that damages their reputation. If they decide to take legal action, you could be facing a lawsuit - and that's not something you want to have as part of your career.
So, if you're thinking about gossiping about your coworkers, think twice. It's not worth the risk to your career or your relationships. It's better to keep your thoughts to yourself and focus on positive, productive ways to improve your work environment.
Tips to Avoid Gossiping
If you're tempted to gossip, ask yourself this: would you want your coworker to say the same thing about you behind your back? If the answer is no, then it's time to stop the gossiping.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid gossiping:
1. Avoid people who gossip.
If you find yourself in a conversation with someone who is gossiping, politely excuse yourself and walk away. The best way to avoid gossiping is to avoid people who engage in it.
2. Keep confidences to yourself.
If someone confides in you, make sure to keep it to yourself. Don't repeat what you've heard to anyone else, no matter how tempted you might be.
3. Change the subject.
If you're in a situation where people are gossiping, try to change the subject. This will help to diffuse the situation and shift the conversation to something more productive.
4. Don't participate in office gossip.
If someone tries to involve you in gossip, shut it down immediately. You can do this by refusing to participate or by changing the subject.
5. Confront people who gossip about you.
If someone is spreading rumors about you, talk to them about it. Confronting the gossip head-on is often the best way to stop it.
6. Speak up for others.
If you see someone being gossiped about, stick up for them. This will help to show that you don't condone gossip and it may help to stop the gossip in its tracks.
7. Be positive.
Make an effort to focus on the positive things about your coworkers. This will help you to see them in a more positive light and it may make you less likely to gossip about them.
Gossiping is a destructive habit that can damage your relationships, your career, and your professional reputation.
So next time you're tempted to complain about someone at work, remember the high cost of gossip and keep it to yourself. It's simply not worth it to risk your career and reputation for the sake of a little gossip.
Trustworthy, reliable, and respectful employees are always in high demand - so make sure you're one of them!
Let's Hear From You!
What other tips would you add for ways to avoid gossiping? Share them in the comments below
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Becky Vinton - talent strategist with over 20 years' experience improving the effectiveness of organizations and enhancing employee experience as a global human resources leader and business consultant. She holds an MBA Degree and several certifications including Human Capital Strategist by the Human Capital Institute.