Pssst . . . Quit the Office Gossip

by Joe Lavelle on November 1, 2011

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“Did you see the way that John looked at Sally when she walked into the office this morning?”

“I’m really worried about Jill.  I’ve been out with her for business dinners a few times now and I think she might have a drinking problem.”

“I really didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I heard Henry arguing with his wife on the phone AGAIN this morning!”

As I’ve mentioned time and again, I believe that networking and building professional relationships is essential if you wish to see your career accelerate.  As you move further ahead with your goals in the workplace, I imagine that you can look back and see that there is a web of human connections that have helped make your success possible.  However, one way that I do not encourage you to forge those interpersonal bonds is through office gossip.  While you think you may be gaining someone’s confidence or perhaps learning information that will help you get the edge in your own career, your reputation can and should suffer as a result.

Gossip can be enticing.  When you participate, you can gain a false sense of belonging and camaraderie.  You can be fooled into believing that everyone shares the same opinion about the person or event being discussed, only to discover later that you now are a topic of gossip as being someone who cannot be trusted.  And, it’s inevitable in an office in which everyone puts their own interests first (or at least near the front of the line), the subject of your chatter will find out what you said.  There goes a possible network connection with a peer in your industry, and the effect will be one that ripples.

Talk to the other people in your office.  Have a genuine interest in their lives.  But, keep your conversations upfront and direct.  There is nothing to be gained from gossip except a bad reputation and the loss of time that could be better spent furthering your professional knowledge and experience.

Have you ever faced a time that gossip caused a real problem in your office?  Does your workplace have any official policies in place to keep such talk to a minimum? 

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