Work Etiquette: How to Handle Gossip and Negativity

I wanted to share something that has been on my heart lately.  Right now at work and school, I am witnessing so much gossip and negativity. It seems that some of my classmates and co-workers talk and laugh about others just to make themselves feel better.  Those being talked about sense the negative energy and are not feeling appreciated or happy. How are we all suppose to be a team and accomplish a common goal if we are not all on the same page?

I am trying to be the person that bridges the gap and keeps everyone on our team happy but sometimes I just feel like saying, “Grow up! We are not children and you need to act like an adult!”  Ever been there before?

The statistics of workplace gossip are mind boggling!  Did you know that:

  • 60% of people in the workplace cited gossip as the No. 1 problem.
  • 2 out of every 3 Americans have low self-esteem.
  • 80% of people are hurt by words. Research shows that only about 20% of people are able to handle put downs without emotional pain or psychological damage.

According to Scott Hunter, author of ” Making Work Work” states in this article that “When gossip infects the workplace, people shift their focus to what is wrong and what is not working, rather than on what is possible.  When gossip is present, there is no communication, no understanding, no appreciation of the other person’s position, no intimacy, and certainly no trust.  Gossip causes turnover and can be an irreversible problems if left to grow and spread within a company.”

So, what are some tips for us to help build a gossip-free environment?

  1. Learn to remain neutral and not say anything at all.  Lead by example by avoiding confrontation.
  2. If you are the target of gossip, don’t let it upset you.  Gossipers like to get a reaction and if you ignore them, they will leave you alone in the future.
  3. Know who you can trust and always remember this Turkish proverb – “Who gossips to you will gossip of you.”

How do you handle negativity on a team? 

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About Anna Runyan

Anna Runyan has been helping women get their careers unstuck since 2008. She is known for “The Love Your Career Formula” which helps women find new careers they LOVE in 90 days or less and “The Corporate Rescue Plan” which helps women ditch their day jobs and start profitable, freedom-based online businesses in 90 days. Make sure you sign up for her Free ‘CHEAT SHEET’– 7 proven steps to get out of a job you hate and into a career you love.

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