The water cooler is an office staple with many meanings. Some use it for refreshments while others use it as a meeting place to dish. Rumors fly around the office as easily as they do a playground in kindergarten. Even though some of us have an addiction to juicy gossip and drama, it can prove to be counter productive, especially when we are the subject of it. There are very few ways to avoid office gossip without avoiding everyone you work with, but there are ways to minimize gossip and its affects. Here are a few tips to keep the clucking hens as quiet as possible.
Find them before they find you:
Learning who the gossipers are before they reach you is imperative to defending yourself from the mud slinging. When you start at a new office, keep your eyes and ears open. The queens and kings of gossip are rarely hard to see. They enjoy being the center of attention as long as they aren’t the subject. They especially enjoy getting their beaks into the new guy. They may actually approach you before you see them.
If you know what to look for you will know how to avoid them. The main guru of gossip is often the one hovering over everyone’s cubicle but their own. They whisper more than talk, they scour the room constantly and are not shy about telling you their status as the go-to person for all things dishy.
Don’t feed the animals:
When you are approached you will be berated with questions. They will ask everything from where you are from to your marital status. Keep quiet and don’t feed too much information. Not responding is rude and you don’t want that rumor going around, so just filter your responses. If they ask a specific question keep your answer short and simple. Don’t give too many details and you won’t give too much to rumor about.
Once you have spotted the main hen, you will need to be careful around them. Avoid situations that will let your guard down. Office socials can be a great way to meet the people you work with, however if you’re not careful you can find your dirty laundry circulating the office on Monday. Keep your wits and you can avoid the gossip.
Edit your internet presence:
Social networks are all the rage; however everyone uses them for different reasons. You may have your Facebook page as a way of staying in contact with family and friends but those who are drama fiends may use it as a way to gather gossip. Before letting the ones you work with on your page, edit it.
Delete the comments from exes or current girlfriends, remove the video your brother posted from your birthday party, and delete any pictures that show you without pants. It may seem harmless to you but to the gossip pros it can be used as a weapon. You may also want to consider making your page private to only those on your friends list, and be careful not to add the wrong person.
Douse the flames:
No matter how hard we try, if someone wants to put your private life on center stage they will find a way. When it does happen it will now be in your best interested to douse the flames. Deny everything. If someone approaches you and shares a tidbit of information that they heard in whispers, deny it but only deny it. Don’t clarify what really happened and above all don’t retaliate. Simply deny it and move on.
The less interest you show in the gossip the less likely they are to continue. Gossipers crave attention from those they gossip to as well as those they gossip about. If they see you don’t care, they will usually stop using you as a subject for their dirt.
Getting caught up in the web of rumors and lies can not only cause unneeded emotional stress, but can affect your work performance. Every office has that one person that lives to gab. Once you know how to treat the gossipers you can control the amount of damage caused and continue to concentrate on what really matters, your work.