Who doesn’t find it annoying to deal with gossip at workplace especially if it taints your character or questions your work ethic? A friend of mine had a mentor at work who was quite level headed and many years senior. He would meet her and discuss her problems and suggest solutions also motivate her to rise in the job. My friend then got promoted and took a new role in a new team and wasn’t in touch with her mentor for some time. She met him after a long time to discuss her new role, new challenges and asked for advice. What he said next surprised the hell out of her. He mentioned that there’s been a rumour in the office that he supported her because he “benefitted” from it and that her promotion had something to do with their connection. He then declined to mentor her any further as he didn’t want negative gossips floating around in the company anymore. This was not just disappointing but utterly disgusting to hear. In my experience, women at workplace do suffer from such derogatory rumours but men are not spared either. There was once a colleague of mine who was a star performer and out of nowhere suddenly one day found that few people are talking behind his back that he is leaking inside information to competitors. When he came to know about this, he threw the best office party and invited all these gossip mongers and then became their greatest guy in the office. He used his charisma to win friends and kill the gossip before it blew out of proportion.
In the first story, my friend couldn’t do much but felt frustrated and was angry whereas, in the second story, the guy literally went out and ‘confronted’ the gossipers while keeping things light. He didn’t just manage to kill the gossip forever but also became the fun loving awesome guy at work who everybody wants to hang out with. Not everyone will be able to pull off what my second friend did. So how do you manage office gossip if you are not the best people influencer? Here are 3 ways to manage office rumours:
- Nip right at the bud- as soon as you come to know about a rumour about yourself, take immediate action. The first step is to present yourself with facts. Don’t be afraid to add a little bit of drama if needed, e.g. if the rumour is- “he drinks alcohol in the office”…..invite them to your desk, show them your drawers, under the desk, turn the monitor screen around, ask them to search themselves for that bottle of alcohol…. If it’s difficult to kill the rumour through facts or logic then try this
- Find the originator- find out who started the rumour in the first place. Most of the time it won’t be easy to know because no one will be willing to share names. But if you happen to find out then the best way is to talk to them in person directly. It could be a challenging task and not easy to confront the gossip worm. Read more how to handle the confrontation with gossiper one-on-one here.
- Humour can kill the rumour– when the rumour is true, one way to handle is to laugh it off…..crack a joke and laugh it away…once everybody knows that the rumour doesn’t affect you, the gossip will die in no time. This is tried and tested and the most effective antidote for gossips.