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How to Manage Gossip

Gossip is rampant in most workplaces. Sometimes, it seems as if people have nothing better to do than gossip about each other. They gossip about the company, their coworkers, and their managers. They frequently take a partial truth and turn it into a whole speculative truth. Many employees gossip about the amount of money they make – and often, they don’t tell the truth. So, unhappy coworkers beat a path to the HR door asking about their own salary.

Expect a certain amount of gossip; people want to know what is going on in their workplace, and they like to discuss work issues. The key is to know when the gossip is out-of-hand. You need to act if the gossip is:

  • disrupting the work place and the business of work,
  • hurting employees’ feelings,
  • damaging interpersonal relationships, or
  • injuring employee motivation and morale.

If you find yourself having to address gossip frequently, you may want to examine your workplace to understand the consistent themes in the gossip.

Consider that you may not be sharing enough information with employees. It is also possible that employees don’t trust you and are afraid to ask about important topics. If gossip has been unmanaged in the past, gossip tends to become a negative aspect of your work culture. So, don’t let negative gossip go unaddressed.

You can manage gossip exactly as you would manage any other negative behavior from an employee in your work place. Use a coaching approach, when possible, to help the employee improve his or her behavior. But, when needed, gossip management starts with a serious talk between the employee and the manager or supervisor. If the discussion of the negative impacts of the employee’s gossip has no effect on subsequent behavior, begin the process of progressive discipline with a verbal warning, then a formal written verbal warning for the employee’s personnel file.

If you assertively deal with gossip, you will create a work culture and environment that does not support gossip.

"Who gossips to you will gossip of you." --Turkish proverb

Author: Susan M. Heathfield, Your Guide to Human Resources,

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