Workplace Gossip: Learn to keep your mouth shut

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

Many people like to gossip, to talk about their supervisors or bosses behind their backs. The Rule, however, is — don’t do it. Learn to say only positive things; nice and complimentary. People judge you by what you say as much as how you say it, so be known as someone who is always pleasant and upbeat.

In the workplace, there is always that colleague who has the latest news. That individual, who will always have some “gossip”. Whether it is on a Monday, after the long weekend, that person has some things to say about someone in the workplace. There is always a black sheep. Hanging around such people or being one could be very, very dangerous.

In the work context, people have their networks. Through such, information is passed from the source all the way to the target. So, whether you take part as the perpetrator or just commenting, your contribution will be reported. Like it or not, this is true.

It’s easy to get entangled

An instance could be as set out by Richard Templar in The Rules of work,
Did you know that at the last company conference Steve, from accounts, was seen coming out of Debbie’s, from marketing, bedroom in the early hours of Sunday morning? And that twice since they have been seen in Luigi’s at lunchtime, and Kathy swears she’s seen them holding hands in the lift. Steve’s married, you know, and I thought Debbie was engaged. What do you think? Should they be carrying on like this?

It is often tempting to think you have to have a say on matters like this, especially saying something that will escalate the gossip. Otherwise, you will be skating on very thin ice. Chances are that the very person who lights up gossips will gossip to someone about you. When that happens, who can foresee the diabolical impact that can have?

The crippling impact on both you and your career after the disciplinary committee has been made aware. In the workplace, it is important to watch your back. Know when to keep your opinions to yourself. This can, at times, be the only safe move.

Sometimes gossipers can be acting spies. They can be searching for something to pin on you. Some gossip may simply be a fault-finding campaign. And unknowingly, by getting involved, you could be dancing your way into the lion’s den.

But here’s how to best handle gossip

Richards also cited the following scenario;
So, you’re all sitting round having coffee when the subject of young Adam comes up. Now we all know that Adam is a pain in the backside. He doesn’t pull his weight, goofs off, steals the pens and paperclips, is rude to the security staff, always offloads as much work onto others as possible, blames others for his mistakes, and is generally obnoxious. So you all have a moan about him behind his back, and get a lot of your anger about his behavior off your chest.

But you don’t. Oh, the others might but you won’t, not from now on. You are now a Rules Player, and you stand up for others. No matter how obnoxious young Adam is, you will always find something nice—and genuine—to say about him. That is your objective— find something nice to say no matter what.

It is a redeeming thing to act like a senior in the workplace. Always. Be on the lookout for some character degrading individuals. Respectfully turn their gossip on its head. Risk being labeled “uptight.” The alternative is a broad road that leads to destruction.


Teboho is a Social Worker, Writer and Inspirational Speaker. He is in pursuit of MSc. in Managerial Psychology. Graduates are able to apply psychological principles and methods to tackle challenges in the work environment and provide effective practical solutions. Acting as industrial-organizational psychologists.