Office Gossip – Steer Clear of these traps…



We have all at some point come across that one person who seems to know all the gossip about everyone in the office. While listening to it, you end up opening up and talking about your own life too. Before long you find out a few other people seem to know your business too! This person is usually quite friendly and uses this personality trait to his advantage to get information out of people. His friendliness can be mistaken for trust but be wary and do not fall for this trap because being friendly does not necessarily equate to being trustworthy. If he can talk about others to you there is always the chance he does the same to others about you!


Recognize the warning signs when you hear lines like “Did you notice how Mr. Jones was behaving with Sally?” or “Mary stays quite late in the office doesn’t she?” These comments are said with a glint in the eye or a smile that indicates you do not know half of what really goes on in the office. From that point onwards the seeds of suspicion have been planted and you will never see Mr. Jones, Mary or Sally in quite the same light anymore. Next time you listen to such unfounded comments it’s best to just ignore them or tell the person spreading them you are too busy and just don’t have the time to listen. They will soon get the message and look elsewhere to spread rumors.


This is probably the gossip that employees find most interesting as it shows the boss at his most human. This gossip is mostly fuelled by those who claim to be a friend of the boss and have been introduced to some aspect of his private life. The culprit could be his assistant or his PA who gossip about it to friends in the office and the information finds its way to other employees. Words of advice to the boss would be to keep his private life private and to the PA or assistant would be to be professional and not repeat gossip as they could lose their job, future job credibility and their own reputation in this useless chain of events.


This is another scare-mongering tactic that some managers are guilty of when they give more information than they should while relaxing during a cigarette break. Information that should be kept private is made public and before long all the employees start wondering how long their jobs are going to last. Those employees working in the financial departments of a business should make it a point to keep their discussions limited to work situations and not reveal private company information to their colleagues. If there is some financial aspect of the company that is worrying them it should be discussed with a manager and not amongst themselves.


If the news of earnings of another employee is leaked out it could be the cause of unnecessary office gossip. It could raise questions like why should one employee earn more than someone else doing a similar job or why there are differences in rates being offered to employees. Though a pertinent question, this is a matter to bring up with management rather than creating friction between employees themselves. The payroll department should be strict in their work ethics and keep information private that could otherwise cause a lot of office problems for themselves and others.


She not only makes you a cup of tea but provides you with unwanted information about what she heard and also asks you if it is true. There is a familiarity in the attitude of the cleaner or tea lady which is generally excused and while making you a cup of tea she relays information about the other offices. Gradually this morning or evening visit brings you unwanted bits of information you would rather not hear about. The best way to put a stop to this is to put your head down and keep busy or even pretend to be busy. She will soon get the message and leave you in peace.


Do be careful when you send emails containing office gossip to another employee as it could end up in the in folders of every other employee including the one the email is about! Depending on email settings some emails can be sent to a department as a block. The best thing is to avoid putting anything on paper that could harm either your own reputation or someone else’s. Like they say if in doubt leave it out!


If you do decide to attend the office party lay off the drink or you could end up repeating things you regret later. As the party atmosphere heats up so does the courage of the office gossips. Drinks loosen the tongue and before long snippets of office goings on are revealed. You could see the New Year looking for a new job. So at this Christmas party speak your mind but do mind what you speak and especially who you repeat it to.