How to Handle Office Gossip

Question:  I joined this software company before a year and was put on a live project immediately. I had to undergo training from one of the team members before i could start working. I looked at this as an opportunity to know more about project. So as i got to know about technology, the team mate started expressing his views about other team members i.e. developers, in how they would pressurize you to work and some other negative aspects. I was sort of concerned now and formed a negative impression about the people on this project. So i made a decision to keep distance with them. Soon it was shocking to see that the team member who told me all these was himself mingling with rest of the team as if all were in good sync. I could not get out of the negative impression i formed initially and so i always felt a bit wary when relating to others.

Same thing happened with another team member who kept complaining to me that developers(other team members) were mean to us and that they were to blame for the faults. However, he became a loyal dog to them (developers) when they asked him to do something. It was as if they were friends and had good understanding with each other. And i was the one left out. I was clearly shocked at this double faced behavior of my co-workers. I would like to know if this type of behavior is common. Also is it me who is stupid in not being able to understand these office behavior?

office gossip

Thanks for reaching out.  I can’t say if this behavior is common or not, but in business I know for a fact there are always people that like to gossip about other people and be double-faced for their own interests.  It doesn’t seem to me that you knew well either team members who have been complaining to you.  My suggestion are as follows

  • Steer clear of people who like complain and gossip.  You may feel important because they seem to be telling you a secret but by wasting time listening to gossip, you get emotional entangled in what they think about others.  As you found out yourself, their biased views can lead you to pre-judge others.  This will not help your teamwork skills.  Also those who like to gossip to you are also likely to gossip about you.  You cannot change who they are, but you can choose to not partake in their gossiping by even listening.
  • Interact with all your project mates directly with an open mind, and make your own conclusions about their work style and how you feel about working with them.  This is always the best solution.  Everyone has a different perspective about their work and the people they work with.  Form your own opinion based on direct interaction.  It is the only way you can learn how to work well with others.
  • Realize gossip is not the same as the truth.    They are just expressing their opinions.  Whether they are being double faced or not is less important.   You should never have someone else’s opinion completely sway your own.  Even when all other’s opinion say the same thing, you should always have direct interactions to make your own conclusions.  Otherwise, you can always fall victim to double faced behavior.

So try to erase everything you heard and begin to interact with everyone on your project with an open mind.  You will then get a chance to know them and figure out directly how best to work with each person.  Also  you are NOT stupid.  This can happen to the best of us when we are too trusting of others.  Trust in yourself and form your own opinion and you will do fine.   Best wishes,

Your comments:  How do you handle office gossip?  Does my advice help?  Share your comments below.


2 thoughts on “How to Handle Office Gossip

  1. Edward

    “You should never have someone else’s opinion completely sway your own”

    Remember, there is always 2 sides to the story…


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