A recent study on gossip highlighted an alarming fact that each gossip session lasts 15 minutes on average. The same study also brought out the positive side of the gossip that 86% gossips revolve around corporate challenges. While some people may be adamant that office gossip is necessary and even inevitable, the flip side is rather scary. It kills productivity and morale and strains relationship. Potentially harmful gossip must be brought to an end.
Positive Gossip and Toxic Gossip
Dr. Jack Levin, professor of Northeastern University, and author of “Gossip: The Inside Scoop” while distinguishing harmful gossip from the healthy ones holds that gossip can be emotionally healthy and can improve business and social ties.
Opinions may vary on what distinguishes positive gossip from a negative one, but the usual gossips based on rumors, lies, humiliation, ridicule, leak of personal information and unethical communication without any attempts at stopping them are unhealthy and toxic that adversely impacts the workplace culture.
Identify the Ringleader
There is often a ringleader when it comes to workplace gossip. It is not hard to identify them. They usually find a convenient location in the workplace such as a kitchen or coffee stand or galleries or anything similar where they are most often to be located. These are also the nooks and crannies where people usually converge. This ring leader, a habitual offender will drop some juicy bomb here almost routinely. This is the original source of virulent gossip that influences the workplace culture. Unless it is nipped in the bud, it may be difficult to control.
Here are some of the ways to stop the cycle of gossip:
Gossips thrive because they are tossed on from one individual to the next. More importantly, the individuals themselves are highly receptive to gossips. The best strategy against the culture of gossip is to act with integrity by not listening or paying attention to it. Don’t pass it further when someone tells you a juicy story. Simply walk away from the story showing distinct repulsion to something as silly as this.
Derail the Gossip
If the gossip involves something negative about your co-worker, say something complimentary about them. This is probably the best strategy to end the gossip and derail it in its track. Most probably the course of the conversation will change from here on. If the gossip is based on misinformation or false information, present the correct information. This is the best way to expose the gossiper who aimed to deliberately spread this misinformation.
Pin Down the Gossiper
If you have the option to isolate the gossiper that will probably put an end to gossip-mongering. There is often one person who constantly thrives on making trouble. Take the necessary action to minimize interactions with him. Others might follow your example.
Potentially harmful gossip must be put to an end. If not nipped in the bud, it can be destructive enough to control leading to toxic corporate culture. It can be put to an end tactfully and responsibly while addressing the issue, not the person.