Gossip at Work
In the workplace, gossip is the ultimate equalizer, a sure way to cut someone down to size. If there’s anyone who you feel jealous of, competitive towards, angry at, threatened or betrayed by, a juicy piece of gossip that erodes that person’s reputation or tarnishes their image can be music to your ears.
- Why wouldn’t you want to tell your friend that your condescending coworker got drunk at a client dinner?
- Who doesn’t want to hear that the mean, controlling boss who made your life miserable has been fired?
Gossip can be entertaining, funny, a tension breaker. Many people use gossip to achieve a false sense of intimacy. Gossip takes the focus off of the individuals who are interacting and puts it on someone else. Two coworkers gossiping about another person will feel ostensibly closer, perhaps because in sharing a secret about someone else’s misfortune, they can each feel better about themselves.
How Gossip Hurts
While it can be tempting and even satisfying to gossip about other individuals at work, it really is a double-edged sword. Professionally, if you’re known as a gossip, it can hold you back. While you may receive extra attention from your peers for relaying juicy information about others, the people who could promote you may consider that same behavior a liability. You may be viewed as less trustworthy than other professionals and incapable of holding something told in confidence. You may also be seen as someone who lacks discretion. Look around you. When was the last time the office gossip was promoted?
What Drives Us to Gossip?
Some people gossip when they get angry with a former friend or colleague. If they feel wronged or hurt by another person, a good piece of gossip can serve as form of retaliation. Others use gossip as power—as way to be considered “in the know” in a community or group. Still others resort to gossip when they are jealous of or consider someone else a threat. Then there are the gossip gals who use scandalous tidbits about others to avoid talking about themselves.
Think about the last time you shared a piece of gossip. What prompted you to share? Was there someone you wanted to hurt, make fun of or bring down a notch,? Were you trying to impress the recipient or deflect attention from yourself? The more that you understand what motivates you to gossip, the sooner you can make a conscious choice about whether to engage in this tempting habit at work.
This month let’s keep with passing on something positive and true!