Updated: Dec 9, 2022
One of the most common sources of employee distraction in the workplace is gossip.
Gossip can be either negative or positive, depending on how the individual interprets it.
Negative gossip (which is usually what is meant when gossip is mentioned) means talking about a person who is not present in an unflattering way, spreading rumors, or simply saying their personal things that would offend them if they were present.
Gossip can be humiliating to the person who is the subject of the conversation.
In this article, we will look at how negative gossip affects productivity in the workplace and how you can avoid it.
How gossip affects productivity
Gossip can relate to personal or private affairs in addition to professional matters. Employees are greatly affected by unflattering gossip.
Negative gossip often results in personality impairment. According to Schafer from Psychology Today, negative talk about others may make the person feel better about themselves. People may choose gossiping because they seek a revenge from them and this gives a sense of power to them.
Sometimes false information is spread through gossip and it is difficult to maintain a positive environment when gossip and rumors are constantly circulating.
Employee morale suffers and negativity spreads everywhere.
"Fire and sword are slow engines of destruction in comparison with the tongue of a Gossip" - Richard Steels
Building a healthy, productive work environment requires trust.
When you receive unpleasant information about yourself from others, you can feel betrayed. This has significant repercussions and causes you to never trust anyone again. As a result, your self-motivation at work decreases.
In work environments that rely on collaboration, gossip can be damaging to coworkers and the entire organization. You should not bring dining room chatter into the workplace in the first place.
When team members learn they are being gossiped about, they are less likely to want to work with the colleagues spreading the rumors. This leads to a negative attitude in the workplace, as no one wants to work with someone who spreads misleading or private information. The result is that work is either delayed or does not go as expected.
Employees find it difficult to concentrate, lose their willingness to collaborate and experience a drop in productivity because they are the target of gossip in the workplace. There is no mutual understanding, which leads to more conflict.
In the long run, this situation affects a person's ability to work.
Lisa Bonos from Washington Post claims that gossiping is a way of entertainment at the workplace and this was the worst part of the remote work. Employees, as they return to offices, have now opportunity to socialize again and form bonds with gossiping.
Strategies to avoid gossip
The most important step to curb gossip in the workplace is to talk to supervisors and Human Resources to put some restrictions in place.
HR should check the employee handbook to see if gossip is addressed and discuss the consequences with employees.
Another way to prevent gossip is to counteract the negative aspect by emphasizing the positive qualities of the person who is the target of the gossip. In other words, engage in positive gossip by talking about the person's accomplishments or endorsements.
Even if you are just listening, you are part of the gossip. It is best to end the conversation without addressing the rumor. This way, you show the person that their behavior is not well received by others. This can help put an end to the gossip.
If you know the person from whose mouth the gossip is coming, you can calmly address it in private that their activities are reducing work productivity and affecting the person's ability to perform better.
Negative gossip in the workplace has a detrimental effect on productivity. It not only negatively impacts the overall quality of work, but also the person being gossiped about. Therefore, it is important to avoid gossip in the workplace to increase productivity.