Don’t feed the rumour mill: The dangers of office gossip

By Robert Half 12 January 2015

Rumours and office gossip are unnecessary and unprofessional – so why get involved?

Office gossip is a toxic thing where nobody gains – not the company, not your colleagues, not you. So why do it?

Anyone who’s been the subject of workplace rumours can tell you the many reasons not to partake in pointless conversations by the water cooler. Here are three big ones.

1. It’s unprofessional and damaging to your career

A tendency to harshly judge your colleagues and an inability to keep sensitive information to yourself won’t win you friends in the workplace. Nor will it make you prime material for a promotion. 

If you find yourself constantly criticising others or instigating petty rumours, consider why. Are you unhappy in your role? Do you feel threatened by other people’s success? Whatever your reasons, it’s unprofessional and reflects poorly on you. Think about what is driving you to gossip and how you can improve or change your situation for the better.

2. It breeds a negative work culture

We all have bad days at work. Someone may have made a mistake that made your job harder, your project may not have received the response you hoped for or you could have overheard a conversation you shouldn’t have. Whatever the scenario, consider who you share it with and how.

Don’t write it in an angry email, share it on Google Chat or make it the subject of your next coffee break. If you have an issue with a colleague that’s troubling you or you’ve learned something that makes you feel compromised or uncomfortable, use the relevant channels to communicate and remedy this. Rumours and backstabbing create a negative work culture – so, aim to be part of the solution and not the problem.

3. It’s hurtful and damaging to others

Office gossip creates unknown victims, as those being spoken about quite often don’t know it, and as a result cannot defend themselves. Rumours not only unfairly damage reputations and impact the emotional wellbeing of those being gossiped about, but also impair work relationships and morale.

Do your part in tackling office gossip by ensuring your business has a policy that addresses it and by becoming a good communicator to make staff feel supported at all times.

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