New employees might have heard about this person before they even met them. Maybe right after they were introduced, this person decided to tell your new employee “how things work around here.” Ten, thirty, or even sixty minutes later, you realize that your new hire has met the office gossip. Whether your business works in a more traditional office setting, a remote, or a hybrid environment, one or a few employees probably enjoy spreading stories, information, and details about other people. Unfortunately, most talkative co-workers don’t always verify the accuracy of the information they discuss. Reports spread quickly; before you realize it, all of the team seems to be discussing the same juicy story.

Many executives and professionals like talking to a colleague with a tendency to gossip because they can gather information about everyone in the workplace. Some people like drama and feel the excitement just hearing about it. However, most executives and professionals aren’t happy when they become the primary subject of the gossiper, and continued gossip can lead to a negative work environment within your business. Gossip in the workplace can negatively affect your employee’s character, reputation, and, if you don’t validate the facts, your willingness as the owner to provide promotional opportunities. Here are four keys to helping your employees to work with office gossip and reduce the risk of a negative work environment.

Keep Conversations Business Focused as Much as Possible

Gossiping team members often have a way of quickly building relationships or affinity. They may come across as trying to assist others or openly share personal details about themselves. This concern and connection are usually not genuine because they are trying to ferret out information. While it may become obvious to some of your employees, others may not recognize it. Once a gossip has intimate details on an individual others don’t know, they take pleasure in being a go-to resource or telling others. As a preventative measure, don’t share your personal or professional information and discourage employees from doing similar as gently as possible. Most gossipers are charming people skilled at getting what they want.

Challenge and Follow Up On Their Assumptions

If you happen to be around an employee gossiping, one way to make them aware of their behavior is to challenge their assertions and assumptions. You can do that tactfully and without causing the employee to take offense in several ways. You may ask, “Where did you hear that?” Or you could ask, “How do you know that?” It’s common for gossipers to take one true thing and create unsubstantiated stories or scenarios based on those details. Another follow-up question could be, “How do you know that to be the truth?” These questions make the gossiping employee stop and reflect on what they are saying. If other employees come to you regarding negative work environment concerns in this manner, you can instruct them gently to follow this same strategy.

Discuss the Truth and Facts

Verifying the details before you believe what is whispered in the workplace is a good idea. Discussing facts can be productive, giving you more insight into improving your workplace environment for employees and identifying what pitfalls you or they can watch out for. When talking to a person who is a known gossip, stay focused on specific topics that have been validated. Only discuss facts you are sure of and avoid conversations about employees who are not physically present to represent themselves. You don’t want a discussion with the gossiping individual to be seen as playing favorites or be misconstrued as talking about others behind their back.

Limit Your and Your Employees’ Time

Time spent around the office gossip can drain your energy and productivity. There are always more things they can talk about, including any drama occurring at the present moment. This can take you or your team away from the primary goal of doing your best work and reduce morale. Being around a person who gossips can also cause others to assume you are guilty by association, playing favorites, or just like them. This is not to say that you or your employees should ignore or be rude to the gossiper, but be cautious in your interactions with them.

Most workplaces have a known gossiper who enjoys telling others what they heard, saw, or experienced. While finding out personal details about employees or team members can be interesting, being too involved in gossip can affect your organization’s productivity or even lead to a negative work environment. Generally, it’s best not to share your professional or personal information with the office gossip. Challenging their assertions with questions can be beneficial if you hear something that sounds very off base. You can further protect your or your employees’ reputation by only discussing facts and limiting time with gossip. How will you deal with the next employee who comes to you with gossip?

Fly High Coaching is dedicated to helping you and your business succeed. We help to cut the costs of turnover and improve the performance of employees through coaching, consulting, and customized training services. Contact us today to get a FREE Strategy Call or check out our Corporate Coaching Services to learn what you can do now.

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Porschia Parker-Griffin

Porschia Parker-Griffin is a Certified Professional Coach, Business Consultant, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. When she is not coaching, Porschia enjoys traveling, cooking, and working with animals.
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