Gossip in the office is as common as coffee in the pantry, especially in our culture. But it doesn’t mean that we can just accept this fact and engage in it simply because everyone else is doing it anyway. It doesn’t just destroy personal relationships, but also working relationships.
Starting gossip is obviously wrong, but entertaining it is equally as harmful to your peers and most especially to you.
So what do you do when gossip draws you in?
1. Know your involvement – When someone starts volunteering information, here’s a simple way of qualifying: Ask yourself, “Am I a part of the problem and/or part of the solution?” If you don’t fall under either category, then politely excuse yourself from hearing the “juicy details” further. Stories just get juicer as the plot thickens, so cutting it at the bud protects you from the temptation to know more. But if you are either part of the problem and/or solution, and this is something you must know then…
2. Qualify the source – When getting information, what matters to me first is the source. A good question to ask before hearing further details is, “Where did you hear this?” Now the source may be credible, but again if you’re not part of the problem or solution, keep away from this.
3. Do something – Information remains gossip if there are no actionable items laid out. The real intention of discussing problematic scenarios is always for the purpose of figuring out what needs to be done. In this case there should always be a bias to action rather than a bias for discussion. Too much talk on a certain issue without the intention to find solutions is gossip.
4. Don’t pass the message – Some do this especially if it gets really emotional. Choose those you discuss and vent out to. And if people go to you to inquire about the issue, this is where a “Need to know” basis applies. Do those who approach you really need to know? Or do their ears itch with the prospect of acquiring juicy information. Protecting the controversial information protects your integrity, even to those who just want to be in the know.
Gossip creates division, confusion, and distraction. It is completely unproductive and unprofessional, but more than that, it does not honor God.
He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter. Proverbs 11:13
He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip. Proverbs 20:19
Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. Proverbs 34:13
Do yourself a favor. If you’re not involved, listen to other things that can add value to you. And if you’re a part of the problem and solution, apply wisdom to resolve this for the sake of unity, clarity, and productivity.