Have you ever had to deal with gossip in the workplace? This is Jody Ann Johnson, People Champion and Strategist with the 87th episode of “Coffee with Jody”.
During Pride Month, we’ve been talking about Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, and today we’re going to talk about one of the things that can happen in the workplace that is just devastating to the workplace, to the morale in the workplace and to the person who’s being gossiped about.
Now, imagine you’re walking through the workplace and you hear, “Can you believe that she…” Imagine how the person that they’re talking about would feel, maybe this has happened to you firsthand. Gossip in the workplace can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, and on the business itself.
I want to share with you three things.
One, What is gossip?, I’ll share with you some statistics, and lastly, what could you do about it in your workplace? In case you’re not clear about what gossip is, it’s rumors, spreading false information, not stopping the spread of false information that you’re aware of, ridicule, belittling, humiliation and leaks of personal or confidential information.
Now there’s a particular quality to gossip, which is very distinct from a workplace conversation. How you know it’s gossip is that it attacks the person’s moral character; whereas a conversation about somebody in the workplace is largely about performance or something that they need to be doing or they’re not doing, of that nature.
Let me share some stats with you about gossip. 21% of people say that they routinely engage in gossip in the workplace. That’s astounding! 15% say that they occasionally engage in gossip in the workplace. AND 86% of gossip has to do with the organization’s challenges.
Bet you can’t guess how many minutes people engage in gossip on average, take a moment and think about that. It’s 15 minutes! So if 21% of people are routinely engaging in gossip and it’s 15 minutes each, and it takes at least two people, if not more, to be engaged in gossip, imagine how much lost productivity that is.
So that’s an impact on the business, in addition to what they’re gossiping about, which is rarely going to be creating something of value. It’s actually degrading the person and the organization when people engage in gossip.
So the next thing is, what can you do about it? First you can ignore it. If you don’t engage or you redirect the conversation, you can sometimes stop it at that point. Study it to see whether or not it actually qualifies as gossip. There’s a particular energy that goes with gossip, like you kind of feel it, however just make sure that it’s actually gossip and not a workplace conversation.
Does your organization have a policy against gossip directly? Or it may be inside of your core values or your culture statement about respecting people and communication. Or speaking positively about others in which case gossip would go directly against that core value or that culture statement.
Watch your own conversations, avoid joining in to a conversation that is engaging in gossip. You could try to redirect it as we said in the first way of how to stop gossip. Or you could actually say, “Hey, you know, we really shouldn’t be talking this way about this person, they would feel bad and you would feel bad if they knew.”
Next, keep your private life at home, make sure that your conversations are professional in nature. That’ll avoid people having anything to gossip about you, or anything that you’ve said about your own life.
You can address it directly when you’re aware of it and say something about the core values or about your culture statement and stop. If you can’t seem to address it and have it stop, then keep a positive attitude and keep your own conversations positive.
Because when you do that and you refrain from taking something personally you deflect gossip. Remember it’s more about the person who’s gossiping than it is about the person they’re gossiping about. And lastly, you can take it up with HR, a manager or the owner of the business.
It takes something to stop gossip and its impact in the workplace, however if you’ve tried all of these things, then you’ll go a long way toward minimizing gossip. And at the very least people won’t gossip with you.
I want to share with you a quick quote, “Be careful who you trust. If people will discuss others with you, rest assured, they will discuss you with others”.
If you’d like to find out more about how business coaching can benefit you and your business, then please use the calendar link below to schedule a 15 minute discovery call with me and we’ll explore it.
That’s it for today. See you next time.