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Protect Yourself Against Office Gossip

Yipee! It's Career-Wednesday. Let's talk about the fact that most times, it is very unlikely to work in a gossip-free environment. People will always talk about people. Always.

So, how do we deal with that?

Dealing With Office Gossip

I am a Christian, so I talk from a Christian perspective. Gossip is a distraction. It is sin.

Gossip shouldn't be our thing. Especially not at work. Balancing our faith with our career means so much to fulfilling our purpose. To be efficient and effective with our time, we need to get things done, not get bogged down in office conflict.

So when it comes to office politics or gossip, Let's try to stay out of it as much as possible. But sometimes, you can't ignore or avoid it. Phew.

Every office has a gossip.

What Gossip Is

Webster Merriem-Webster's dictionary is one of my favourite. I love its clear and distinctive way of describing words.

Gossip can be described in two ways:
  1.  as an information about people.
  2. as a person who spreads information about people.
However, today, our focus is on #1.

Gossip (as an information about people) might be true or false; either way, it is wrong to share them. Because when we do, we rob those we are talking about.

Gossip is stealing. When it's false, it’s stealing their good reputation. When it's true, it’s taking away their right to privacy and ownership of their own story.

Why People Gossip

I don't exactly know why people Gossip, but I can tell you how I tend to catch myself in the negative rays of gossip.

I am naturally curious about people. That's why I read biographies a lot. Lol.

I had interest in someone who I thought wasn't feeling too good. So I asked about her. One discussion led to another. That was how my colleague started giving me gist about this other colleague.

I must confess, I enjoyed the “juiciness” of the gist she was giving me — right up to the point where she started sharing information that painted a bad picture of this well-respected person. I know I should have changed the subject, but there I was, letting her continue, while my eyes grew as big as puff-puff.

Regretfully, when I got home, I felt terrible. My conscience didn't let me rest. Ah!

People may gossip out of curiosity, out of boredom, out of anger, out of jealousy or for attention. Whatever be the reason for gossip, it is NOT a good thing.

Shout out to my former colleagues - Daniel and Anu. (How I found this picture is a long story)

How To Know It Is Gossip

Gossip looks harmless, but it's all trap.

To know if you’re gosipping, a good tip is to ask yourself how you would feel if the person you were discussing suddenly comes into the room or joined your conversation. Would you continue?

If you are a Christian, you will know when you are gossipping. There is this unsettled feeling from the Holy Spirit - what most of us call conscience - that gets us into knowing what we are discussing is inappropriate.

Use This Guiding Principle

To help you determine what is and what is not acceptable to discuss, use Philippians 4:8 as a guide:

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Since what we say stems out from what we think about, Philippians 4:8 seems to me as a good way to measure our conversations.

What To Do When Gossip Says Hello

It takes courage to stop someone from telling you about another someone. But to save your life, you just have to do it.

Stop them with grace and love.

Say something like:

"Shhh! Has anybody else heard that? I think this is Gossip trying to take over us. Maybe we should change the subject before it catches up with us!

Call it by name, Gossip.

“Wait. Does Sandra know we’re talking about her boyfriend? How does she feel about people knowing the details? If it were me, I’d want to protect him from rumours. Let’s help her.”

I choose Sandra because I detest that name. Lol. All the same, you catch my drift. Right? Put yourself in their shoes.

“Amaka has her quirks, but she’s nice. I wouldn’t say any of these things to her, so I am done with this conversation.”

By all means, take yourself out of the scenario. Run from the smoke before it turns into fire.

“Na wa oh. If this is what you say about Henry, I wonder what you say about me when I'm not around?”

Oops. That might hurt them, but it is better they feel bad for saying bad. It shows you love them after all.

If you truly care about a person's health or well being, then tell them in private that you’ve been thinking of them and that you'd like to have a heart-to-heart talk with them. If they tell you something, listen to what they say, and tell them you'd tell nobody else.

Stay Guarded

The book of Proverbs tells us:

“Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?” (Proverbs 18:8, MSG)

Words work their way into our hearts. They become our thoughts. They control our beliefs. Therefore, every gossip is toxic. You can't afford to have it IN you.

Protect yourself.

Until next week, may your heart be gossip-free and rumour-free.

Stay positive. Stay inspired. Stay true.
Love you. Mwah!

How do you avoid office gossip? Ever been the subject of gossip?

Written by Nwamaka Ajaegbu 
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