Having worked with a bunch of teenage girls I can tell you that gossip at work happens and depending on who you work with, it can happen a lot. Within your local group of friends spreading rumors may be harmless because most smart people will simply ignore it and people who are your true friends won’t let it come in between you and your friendship.
But once it enters the professional environment it can have very negative effects. A false statement can give you a bad record, make you enemies at work, and even get you fired if you’re not careful. Staying out of all the drama completely is your best defense, but that may be easier said than done at times.
If you have problems with gossip at work here are 15 strategies you can use to protect yourself.
1. Don’t Jump To Conclusions
The first step to making sure nobody gets hurt by gossip is by simply not jumping to any conclusions. When you hear someone tell you a rumor about someone else don’t jump to conclusions. Instead try to drag the conversation away from that topic.
This will do 2 things; first of all, it will lessen the “rumor starters” power on you. Rumors are started to create a reaction and control others (normally hoping you will take action against the victim). If you don’t react to it, you can’t be controlled.
Second, it will make it less fun to share gossip with you, which will in the long run throw you out of the gossip loophole. This is where you want to be. No point getting caught up in lies and half-truths, when you can be enjoying your life.
If it really is that important to you, you can always go back and get the victim’s side of the story afterwards.
2. Make It Clear That Rumors Will Not Be Tolerated
If you are the boss and have a problem with rumors flowing around the workplace it is your responsibility to put an end to it. Let your employees know that gossip will not be tolerated and has no room in the workplace.
Instead of giving power to the rumor starters by jumping to conclusions or spreading it yourself, try to get the facts straight. People talk, people exaggerate, and people lie. Remember that before taking any action against one person based on what another said.
3. Don’t Sink To Their Level
Gossip at work doesn’t benefit anybody except the people starting the rumors. It stresses out those hearing the gossip and can severely damage the lives of the ones the gossip is about. Don’t spread rumors about other people because you know that you wouldn’t want other people to spread rumors about you.
The more you associate with the gossipers and the more you get entangled into the lies that are floating around the more likely it is that rumors will start spreading around about you. It is best just to turn the other cheek and focus on the positives in life.
Confront Rumor Starters
If you know that there is one person who is starting rumors about you and it may affect your career, the first step is to talk to that person. Don’t jump to conclusions about who is out to get you, but if you do have a pretty good idea of whom it is, it is worth bringing it up to them.
Let them know what you have heard and ask them if they have a problem with you. If they admit to telling the rumor ask them to please stop jumping to conclusions and to not spread a rumor until they have all of the facts.
If they have a conscious they might just stop there and be done with it. But if things persist and keep getting worse let your supervisor know what is going on and what you have done to try and stop it. Your boss should be more than willing to want to stop gossip at work from happening because all the gossip and drama around the workplace makes life harder for them as well.
5. Tell Your Supervisor When You Hear False Rumors About You
When you hear false rumors about you which can affect your job make sure to let your boss know what is going on. If you do they will most likely believe you if it comes down to he said vs she said.
Your boss will not likely get involved if you are working hard and doing a good job. But keeping them up to date with what is going on and keeping that communication line between you and your boss open will only benefit you as your boss gets to know you and what kind of person you really are.
6. Laugh About It
If there is a rumor going on about you which will not affect your job, laugh about it. Turn it into a joke and make sure other people know you have turned it into a joke. When you joke about the rumor it lets other people know that you don’t take it seriously.
It diffuses the rumor because it turns from a serious issue into just another inside joke that isn’t meant to be true. It also shows others that rumors are not as effective on you because you just laugh them off anyways.
If someone wants to start a rumor, they want an easy target. By laughing at rumors and giving them little strength you become a much harder target to hit and therefore less likely to be hit.
7. Conduct Yourself With A Professional Manner
The best thing you can do for your image at work is to conduct yourself with a professional manner. Let others see that you do work hard and that you try to do good in the world. If people have that image about you they will be less likely to believe the rumor that you were sleeping in the back office while at work.
Be professional, treat others with respect, and hopefully they will return that favor to you.
8. Get Your Facts Straight
I would say that the vast majority of rumors out there were not started simply to start a rumor to hurt someone else. Most of the rumors we hear throughout the day do have some truth to them.
For instance, an employee who enjoys walking around the store helping customers, cleaning up spills, and taking care of emergencies may appear to be hiding in the back and avoiding work from another employee who stands at the checkout counter all day. But, if they may be both doing the same amount of work.
Before confronting your boss about the rumor try to find out if there is a reason that rumor might have started in the first place. Could something you have done been misconstrued to mean something else? If so, let them know that.
There is little point in denying something if a 3rd party thinks they have evidence that proves you are lying. Acknowledge what they know, and show them the truth if it is different than what they assume. Honesty is the best policy, if you have nothing to hide and you can bring all the facts forward, you should be ok.
9. Trust In The Evidence
If you did nothing wrong, than another coworker shouldn’t be able to prove that you did do something wrong. Remember to get your facts straight, let them know what you know.
Once you do the only thing left is to be confident that your story will hold. A boss has a responsibility to find out what really happened and if you are the only one that can prove what you say is true, than they have to consider that when making their decisions.
10. Make The Rumor Less Sneaky
The whole reason people get addicted to rumors is because they are sneaky. When people hear a rumor, they believe that they have found out something which you wanted to hide and now they can’t help but to spread it around and reveal to the rest of the world who you really are.
You can combat rumors, by simply taking away this sneaky feel and making them less fun. For instance, if you know a rumor about yourself that is going around, you can go to other people and let them know about the rumor first.
This way, instead of them hearing from Susan, “I hear that John did _____” they hear from John, “Did you hear that people are accusing me of _______ I can’t believe someone would lie about me like that”
Not only does this make the rumor about you seem less valid, it also draws the attention right back at the person who started the rumor.
11. Don’t Give It Any Power
Rumors tend to disappear after a while. If you heard a rumor about yourself and it isn’t a big deal, simply ignore it. People who know and see you will realize that the rumor probably isn’t true and will not give it a 2nd thought, if you don’t.
12. Avoid Getting Tangled Up In It
Rumors come and rumors go, avoiding getting tangles up in them is probably for the best. You don’t want to hurt anybody else and you don’t want to get on the wrong side of someone starting the rumor. Know that the people starting rumors are too busy fighting over themselves to get any real work done, so you should rise ahead of them just because of that one reason.
13. When All Else Fails, Find Another Job
If your job simply has too much drama in it, it might be time to start looking through the classified section for another one. Change isn’t always fun, especially if it is a job you like, but if the work environment just isn’t worth it, you may be happier in a different position.
Nobody ever wants to leave a position with opportunities, but considering how much gossip at work destroys productivity, it makes sense that finding a job with less drama can mean there is more room for growth.
14. Spend Very Little Time Focusing On It
If there is one thing you should have learned from this article, it is that you should spend very little time focusing on drama. I have previously written about why focusing on a bad thing is the wrong thing to do and I still believe in the power of staying positive.
Regardless of how big the rumor is or what it entails, it only has power over you if you let it. Ignore lies and rumors and go on with your day. Fall in love with life and enjoy the world in which you live. After all we only have so much time on this planet; we should make it a goal to make it as pleasant for us and for those that we love as possible.
Did you enjoy reading this post? If you know someone who can benefit by reading this article please share it! Below are some other hand picked articles to check out