If you have been in the workforce for any number of years, chances are you have met some of the toxic gossip spreaders, and perhaps you have even fallen prey to their harsh tongues. So by now you may have heard about the four women in New Hampshire who spent some time discussing a relationship between a town administrator and another employee (which has now been found to be false) and who are now out of a job because of the time they spent gossiping in the office.
Let me preface this post by saying that I don’t know these women, and I’m sorry that they are out of a job if they were not maliciously spreading rumors or talking down about others. Unless we are actually in the right place and time, we aren’t going to know exactly what was said, when it was said or how much time was spent on the conversation.
Yet I feel companies have a responsibility to step up to the plate when they find other employees spending time talking about and spreading stories about the other employees.
We’re told when we are young that if we dont have anything nice to say . . . well, I probably don’t even have to finish that sentence; you are finishing it in your mind as I type.
Yet for some reason we grow up and enter the workforce and find people who don’t follow this practice. If you have been in the workforce for any number of years, chances are you’ve seen the people who spend their free time-and the time that they are supposed to be filing papers or making telephone calls-talking about others. Some of this talk is not malicious, and in fact may be found funny by those who overhear. Hair styles, clothing, personality traits and work habits are often the brunt of the conversation.
Yet for someone who may not have enough money to better their wardrobe, or who may not have control over a quirky personality trait, these jabs and jokes may actually be quite harmful.
In addition, not all office gossip is fun in nature (if we can call jabs at someone ‘fun’). For instance, talks about extramarital affairs or other personal information is typically done to harm another person; after all, why else would someone spread rumors that could hurt or destroy a person’s life?
Yet studies show that 61% of employees routinely engage in office gossip.
If you find yourself falling into this trap, as it is easy to climb out of when others around you are doing the same, take a look at what you can do to stop the office gossip. One company, featured on Good Morning America this morning, has put an end to all office gossip. Instead, if you have something to say to someone, well, as the saying goes, you say it to their face or you don’t say it at all.
If more companies followed this type of policy, chances are the gossiping would end, and quickly.
Yet others feel that companies stepping in and stopping gossip are also actually impeding our rights to free speech. So, my question for you today is this: Do you believe that businesses should step in and put an end to office gossip, whether this means setting up policies in advance or firing people for spreading malicious rumors, or do you believe this goes against our right to say the things that we want to say?