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Gossip at work

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

When it comes to workplace gossip there are two truths. We’ve all done it and we’ve all been the target of it. Venting frustrations can help co-workers bond and uncover legitimate complaints. Gossip becomes a problem and breeches business etiquette when it is at the expense of someone else. Here’s an answer to a question recently posed to The Polite Company, “If you hear employees negatively talking about other employees, what can you do?”

  • If the conversation makes you uncomfortable, say so. “I’m not comfortable having this conversation.” Others will respect your honesty and increase their trust in you.

  • Have a couple of phrases ready like “Oh, I’m not going to go there!” or “I have my own opinions, but none that I’d air here.”

  • Change the subject in a subtle or not-so-subtle way, depending on how seriously you want to convey your reluctance to join in.

If you are trying to curb your own gossip habit, vent to someone outside the workplace, it is healthy to let off steam. You could also start a gratitude journal. A study recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows people who spend a few minutes each day writing about things they are grateful for, engage in fewer rude, gossiping, and ostracizing behaviors at work.


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