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It’s No Rumor – Vicious Gossip Is A Problem

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Shakespeare said it best: “Beware, friends of gossip. It is the big-mouthed monster that mocks the juicy news it feeds on.”

Lies, rumors, and office gossip have always been an entrenched part of the workplace. But when the gossip mill begins to grind people up and ruin their reputations, there is both cause for concern and a real need for management to step in. When left to fester, vicious gossip can not only cause deep personal pain but also lead to turnover, conflict and lawsuits.

While there is no way to completely escape cruel rumors in the workplace, there are some guidelines to follow to combat it. Visualize the offending person or persons as lonely and with low self-esteem. They also feel self-doubt and powerless. Management’s attitudes and policies set the tone on information disbursement. When employees know what’s going on within their organizations regarding company directives, promotions, and potential actions, they’re far less inclined to speculate. It’s important to build a culture that is supportive. Institute support systems, including counseling for those who instigate or are the target of gossip. Let workers know management will not tolerate vicious gossip. Management should be direct but tactful. Deal with rumors immediately and confront chronic offenders. A method that works very effectively at squelching gossip is group discussion. People in the group discussion communicate how they feel about destructive and non-productive talk.

All the planning and preparation in the world cannot prevent gossip. Gossip is often some people’s social interaction and can be a part of our nature. A certain amount of small talk is healthy and helps people connect with fellow co-workers. It humanizes the workplace and helps people bond. It is management’s responsibility to set appropriate boundaries for gossip and to create an environment of mutual respect.

It’s No Rumor – Vicious Gossip is a Problem

•   Keep employees informed.

•   Build a culture that’s supportive.

•   Let workers know that vicious gossip is not acceptable.

•   Deal with rumors immediately.

•   Confront chronic offenders.


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