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Office Gossip: Why We Do It and Why We Should Resist the Urge

  • 02 Jul 2019
Office-Gossip-Why-We-Do-It-and-Why-We-Should-Resist-the-Urge

Gossip... we all do it from time to time due to many reasons. Most of the time, we don't think about the consequences of talking about other people and if what we are relaying is even true.

This lackadaisical attitude has been proven time after time to be very dangerous especially in the office where we put in our time and effort to earn a living. Do we really need to jeopardise our living hood for some idle words?

Research shows that people who gossip the most have very high levels of anxiety. They are generally not particularly popular because they cannot be trusted. Spreading private information or negative judgments is painful to others and reflects poorly on the gossiper.

Why do people gossip? Most of time, it's done when a person feels the weakness and needs a quick fix to feel superior. People who don't feel good about themselves temporarily feel better when they judge others negatively.

There's also boredom... Yes, most of us get bored in the office but please don't use it as a reason to gossip. You can literally do anything else to alleviate your boredom.

Other reasons could be envy, for attention and to feel like part of the group. People gossip to feel as though they belong to the group. Yet, when acceptance is based on being "in on a secret," it is not based on a person's identity, but on exclusion or maliciousness. The attention you get when you gossip is temporary and all you really get is a reputation of being untrustworthy.

Is it always wrong to talk about others?

Most people have a natural curiosity about what's going on among people in the community. Some of the best books are biographies that tell the life stories of other people. However, the best biographies give the reader an understanding of the nuance and complexity of the person's character through facts. They are not based on one-sided, offensive judgments of the person.

The key is to look at one's intent in discussing other people and relationships. Is the intent to understand human nature and improve one's quality of life and relationship; or is the intent to temporarily feel superior or get attention by disparaging others?

So how to do you avoid it? You may choose one of these responses to unwelcome gossip:

Let's suppose that somebody is gossiping mercilessly about Jane. It's important not to feed the gossiper with curiosity, agreement and further questions. It's best to simply change the subject. Here are some other possible responses:

"I notice that you talk about Jane a lot. I'm curious why she interests you so much?"

"Let's take a look at it from Jane's side."

"I am more interested in what you are up to."

"Let's talk about something more positive or decide what we're going to do this afternoon."

"I feel uncomfortable listening to negative judgments about people unless we figure out how to help them."

Source: So What I Really Meant
Photo Credit: My Learning Solutions



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