Gossip can be a lot of fun and is often a feature of office politics - so it’s tempting to indulge - as long as it doesn’t backfire, because it can also make or break reputations. Plus it can seriously undermine your concentration at work!
Recent news of US company Bridgewater Associates' boss Ray Dalio issuing a ban on office gossip has given rise to speculation about the nature of office gossip, and whether a ban is either useful or enforceable.
If you’re the boss, and you want to keep gossip at a minimum, make sure your workforce is kept informed of events and changes. Insecurity at work ups the gossip quota – much of which can be unhelpful to office stability – as people speculate and speculation somehow becomes fact, however inaccurate, like a game of Chinese whispers.
What we also know is that office gossip – whether face-to-face at the water cooler, whispered at a desk, or via email, SMS and MSN – is distracting and time-wasting and can be extremely detrimental to both personal and workplace productivity.
Without being a goody-two-shoes, if you want to get ahead at work the cardinal rules for office gossip are:
1. Set boundaries – don’t share personal confidences you might later regret if they are used against you
2. Be discreet – getting a reputation as the office gossip will imply that you are not to be trusted
3. Keep any gossip upbeat – you don’t want to be seen as the office moaner
4. Never commit to paper, email or text something that could fall into the wrong hands and work against you
5. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you by slagging off your boss or anyone who might be responsible for any future promotion or reference
And if you’re going to be gossiped about, make sure it’s positive gossip that will enhance your reputation as a trusted, productive co-worker everyone wants to be associated with!