What can be done to avoid the gossipers and rumor runners at work, who are also supposed to be working but seem to have all the time in the world to spread discontent and disinformation about their fellow employees? And how, as a manager or even a fellow employee, can you handle this kind of all-too-common issue?
We all know these kinds of people, and most of us spend at least part of our day trying to pleasantly make small talk, grumbling to ourselves that we really just want to do our work and go home, without being involved in personal innuendos that cause hurt feelings or — worse — human resources-related violations and situations that call for mediation.
It goes without saying that these kinds of co-workers and employees will always be out there, as gossip is recreation to many people and they can’t seem to get through their day without it. They are not likely to change, because it would take altering their basic personality to do so, and such people don’t feel they are doing any harm.
What does that mean for the rest of us? You can’t change others, and if you try to change yourself to fit in, those who are truly like you won’t know you when they meet you. Leading by example, and separating ourselves, as much as possible from people who enjoy such idle talk, while still remaining personable and approachable to those co-workers who need our support, is the right thing to do in a peer-to-peer situation and will gain for you true loyalty and respect. As a manager, being quick to encourage supportive talk and turning the conversation to something more productive when an employee gossips within earshot of you can mean the difference between a serious issue and a pleasant workday.