Within careers that take place in the office environment, there are countless obstacles and hurdles in the path to productivity. Among them are static, permanent challenges we cannot do much about, which may include logistical shortcomings or ergonomic flaws; in other instances, our own lack of education or experience may be a tremendous disadvantage, though one we can typically solve through education or research; but in still other examples, these problems may exist within our co-workers, and can widely vary between being mild annoyances or devastating distractions, occasional quirks or deep-set personality issues.
Among the most common yet most pronounced of negative workplace employee traits is that of gossip; that is, the intentional yet unproductive practice of talking about other people without their knowledge and usually in a slanderous fashion. Gossipers can be a notable hindrance to teamwork and overall worker chemistry, as their ill speech habits provide a stumbling block in the face of any goals toward cohesion. In order to avoid the traps of office gossip, whether those traps are becoming the target thereof or the participation therein, a few overarching principles should be remembered.
We have all known examples of this person: The man or woman who may be the most knowledgeable about a particular subject, or is stunningly physically attractive, or possesses some other spectacular characteristic, yet is an absolute menace to be around. These people are not only often providers of gossip, but are also often the subject of gossip. In order to avoid either fate, you should not only be striving to work hard and work smart, but also intentionally make it a point to uphold a sterling reputation of integrity in the workforce.
Sidestep the Gossipers
Frequently, similar human beings tend to hang out in the same group, as typified by the old adage “Birds of a feather flock together.” Often, the gossips in an office are not only widely identified by their co-workers, but also clump together in self-serving, constant-conversation circles. Although the cumulative effects of such collaborative efforts in verbal besmirching can be worrisome, the one benefit is that this habitual community nature makes them easier to avoid. It is best to do so when possible: Simply walk around or away from those that may ensnare you, one way or another, in their web of gossip.
Practice What You Preach
We all encounter daily opportunities and temptations to engage in a little gossip; just an innocent little observation here, or a complain to a trusted colleague. But, in reality, if you want your wishes to respected, or even if you just want to be respected in general, than you had better live up to your words. If you truly despise gossip, then do not participate in it, even passively.
Becoming the victim of a false rumor, or being cast as a villain within the intricate spectrum of office politics, can result in harmful stigma or even have serious effects on one’s potential for career advancement. But by keeping some common sense tips in mind, and being intentional about the choice to follow them, one really can avoid office gossip traps and emerge triumphant.