Where’s the Line Between Helpful Info-Sharing and Office Gossip?

"Before you pass on information about someone, consider honestly both your own motivation and the potential result of your sharing. Will this lead to greater understanding and empathy between people, or will it separate them unnecessarily?" - TGC

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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Often the "gossip" takes the form of someone complaining to me about someone else... someone I'm not responsible for and have little, if any, influence over. A strategy I've found effective when I remember to do it, is to--as early as possible in the exchange--throw in a "maybe" statement. "Maybe she thought..." or "Maybe he meant..." It's usually not hard to see possibilities that put the gossip-target in a potentially more favorable light.

When it works (which is pretty often), it accomplishes two things: makes you less appealing as a gossip audience and maybe helps the gossiper/complainer consider a more positive way to look at the situation/person.

(I use this strategy rather than a more confrontational one, because the confrontational approach tends to fuel even more negativity... and takes up more time. I always have better things to do than deal with office drama, and want to get back to work as quickly as possible.)