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Can Gossiping on the Job Really Hurt You?

Can Gossiping on the Job Really Hurt You?

Beverly West, Monster Contributing Writer

Kate Adams, an editor who worked for a major New York publishing company, recalls being chastised in her peer performance review, because she had admitted to not being in the know about her boss’s sudden resignation in favor of a new position at another house. “I thought the polite thing to do was to pretend that I hadn’t noticed my boss leaving for long lunches and apparently going on interviews,” says Adams. “As an assistant, I always tried to cover for my boss, and I thought that included not talking about her obvious job search. But my coworkers thought it was a sign that I was out of the loop and that I was somebody who wasn’t going places.”

Karen Kirchner, managing partner of Career Management Consulting based in Stamford, Connecticut, believes that you can indulge in a little on-the-job gossip safely and without guilt, as long as you follow these seven rules:

  • Only gossip now and then, and be aware of who is listening.

  • Don’t spend too much time with known office gossips, or you may be judged guilty by association.

  • Listen carefully, but say as little as possible. Don’t appear to be an ambulance chaser or a tattletale so that you can be the one with the scoop.

  • Work on the principle that whatever you say will be repeated. Think about the implications of this before you speak.

  • Consider the source of gossip and the source’s hidden motives. People sometimes plant information to manipulate a situation.

  • Do not badmouth people; your comments will often come back to haunt you as alliances shift in the workplace.

  • If something you say gets back to a friend or colleague in a way that you wish it hadn’t, apologize and be honest. This is the only way of salvaging your reputation and limiting the damage.