It’s at the water cooler, in the break area, the bathroom and even around your desk. It’s office gossip, and if you’re not careful it could soon suck you in and potentially damage your career. Here’s how to avoid the pitfalls:
But is it gossip?
First, you’ll need to establish that what you’re hearing is actually gossip before you make the decision to do something about it. If your colleagues are exchanging information that’s light, positive and generally supportive, chances are it’s just a regular discussion. If the tone of the conversation is more confidential, negative or defamatory, then it’s likely you’ve walked into something more serious.
Brush it off
Colleagues often gossip to add interest to an otherwise mundane workday. Rather than focusing on the content of the conversation and encouraging further discussion, leave the hot zone, keep anything you may have heard to yourself and go about your business.
Fight fire with water
Nothing eliminates negativity quicker than positivity. If one of your colleagues is currently at the centre of office gossip, take the opportunity to change the dialogue and throw one of their positive attributes into the conversation. You’ll instantly redirect the tone of the discussion and circumvent any potential nastiness.
Don’t give in
While it may be fun to know everything about everyone, and put you at the centre of attention when passing along something particularly juicy, resist the temptation to add fuel to the fire of office rumours. Being known as the resident gossip, or even part of the same circle, could affect your reputation and potentially damage your chances of a promotion. Nobody likes a busybody, so leave the gossip to someone else and keep your eyes on the prize.
Play your cards close to your chest
Not all colleagues are created equal – a fact worth remembering in order to avoid becoming the headline of the week yourself. While it’s true that some people can easily make the transition from colleagues to close friends, some will try and use the smallest piece of information against you in order to get ahead. Play it safe and ensure you give your co-workers as little ammunition as possible. Keep your interactions light and friendly without divulging too much personal or professional details, and only unburden to colleagues you’re absolutely sure you can trust.
Want more tips for making it in the business world? Here are 5 traits that all successful women share.