Stop the Gossip!
Leaders are responsible for discouraging gossip and counselling
others who are either the gossiper or the target. Here’s how!
Deal with the gossip a.s.a.p.! Left unchecked, rumors grow exponentially.
They typically turn negative and sap people’s energy as well as causing a loss of focus. Each person puts their own spin on it and the gossip becomes even more hurtful. When rumors arise, deal with the participants individually and/or set up a meeting between the victims and the people spreading the rumors.
Don’t get caught in the rumor mill. Resist the urge to listen and comment. If you do, you too will be perceived as a gossiper. Advise new employees to stay neutral. New employees are prime candidates for the gossip posse! Caution them to be skeptical of people who may be overly friendly. “Helpful coworkers” will try to ingratiate themselves to them so as to get the new person “on their side.”
Don’t you do anything to generate gossip! This may sound obvious, but it is
easy to get caught up in the moment and share confidential information. Stay off the negative grapevine. If someone is not performing, talk with them, not about them!
Take a direct approach. If there is a persistent gossiper who tries to engage you in the gossip, you have several options. Remove yourself. Walk away, literally. Don’t lecture or admonish; just leave the arena. If you stay, you will be forced to listen and tempted to comment. Shut it down. Say things like “I don’t want to talk about this,” or “I am uncomfortable with this conversation.” Let people know when they are spreading lies by saying, “That simply is not true and I don’t want it discussed any further.”
Let people know you are uncomfortable gossiping. You might politely say, “I’m sure you don’t mean to gossip, but that’s what this sounds like.” Then, walk away.
Expose the gossiper. In most cases, the gossiper prefers to talk about someone rather than with the person. If they haven’t spoken to the person they are talking about, let them know that is what they need to do. Nothing changes unless people know what they are doing wrong.