To Gossip or Not to Gossip – At Work

The Grapevine

People love to watch other people.  People love to share.

Gossip is one of those moments of sharing – usually about something naughty that someone else has done or some dire news.

They call it the “grapevine”.  One person tells another who tells another and so on.  Of course, we know that the story gets distorted along the way.

“John saw the boss out with someone other than his wife on Saturday night.  Looked pretty cozy.”

“Carol got into a lot of trouble with Joan.  They started to fight in front of the boss and the boss told them they had to both shape up or ship out.  Carol said that she was looking for another job.”

“Did you hear that Bob and Joan are having an affair.  Policy says they shouldn’t but they don’t care.  They are anyway.  I saw them kissing in Bob’s car at lunch.”

“Did you hear that the Jenn’s entire department is getting axed?  I wonder what brought that on.”

Should You or Shouldn’t You Participate in Gossip?

One the one hand, it’s “news”, on the other hand, it’s hearsay.  Sometimes gossip may be true and sometimes it’s totally false.

It could be that the boss was out with his niece from out of town and there was only a small table available.  The kiss Joan gave Bob was on the cheek thanking him for help, and Jenn’s department is being moved to another part of the building to be closer to a team they work closely with.  It could be that Joan and Carol are both spirited and passionate resulting in passionate outbursts – neither are looking for a job.  Carol was talking about something else entirely.

Gossiping is Big Business – Men, Women and Children all do it!

People Magazine and other such magazines have created a huge empire gossiping.  Writers creating “society” columns are gossiping.  Gossip is a great social activity – everyone loves it and everyone does it – everyone.  The moment you utter someone’s name and something they did to another individual, you’re gossiping – men do it – women do it – children do it – it’s part of the social fabric.

BUT  . . . .  at work, it can get you into some very serious trouble. 


Work is the way you earn your money so you can live – shelter, food and clothing.  Gossip can get you fired – at the very least, it can create alienation either for you or someone else.

Don’t do it – it’s not worth it just to feel that you are “being part of the gang”.

What do you do instead?

Listen.  Don’t participate.  Don’t even offer an opinion – no matter what opinion you offer, it will go against you.  And whatever you do, don’t start a thread of gossip either.  Talk about the weather, the latest in sports or about some activity you are involved in – find topics outside of work if you want to network on the inside.

Outside of Workplace

AND whatever you do, do not pass on the gossip outside of work.  You never know who knows who and you could seriously damage a relationship.  For instance, you know Nancy from JVC company.  You’ve known Nancy for some time and meet up often for a drink after work.  You tell Nancy about the latest scandal at work and add your two cents worth to the story.  Little did you know that the person you were gossiping about was her uncle!!!  Oh, no!  She’s offended by what you said – relationship over!

If you must gossip, keep your work out of it – totally.  Remember, work is the means by which you earn money to meet your needs and want –  keep the stream of income flowing! Don’t do anything which jeopardizes that income no matter how innocent it may seem at the time!

Lorraine Arams
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