6 Reasons Why Employee Gossiping Harms A Company Culture

By Walker Chrisman on February 9, 2016

Photo by jinterwas Flickr

I know that I’m not alone when I say that gossiping is one of the most gratifying behaviors when it comes to relieving frustration at work. I also know that I’m not alone when I say gossiping is also one of the most destructive behaviors.

It starts in elementary and middle school and follows us through adulthood. That’s right, folks. If you haven’t noticed, we act like children even as adults. We can’t stop and we certainly do it so much that we become immune to its consequences. We receive the affirmation we desire from fellow gossipers and we are satisfied when the person we are gossiping to helps us keep the situation stirred up by saying, “Oh my gosh, he did that!? Are you serious!?”

Gossiping is gratifying because you can justify your feelings by communicating your frustrations about a friend or a coworker who may have hurt your feelings or your pride. More often than not, we gossip to try and rid ourselves of our insecurities by making other people look bad. It usually doesn’t work too well, and we become more insecure and more addicted to gossip.

It feels dang good when someone shares your sentiments about a ridiculous moment where someone treated you poorly or did something terrible, but did we ever think that our gossiping could be harming people?

Even if defaming the other person’s character isn’t our goal, here are some reasons why we should really stop the gossip.

1. Gossiping is such a cop out.

Gossiping makes you feel like you don’t need to confront the issue because you’ve already talked about it so much to people not directly involved. Talk to the person you have an issue with.

I know that not everyone is a fan of confrontation and frankly most people are pretty terrible at it. But it will probably actually help to solve the issue if you just respectfully and lovingly confront the person you have a problem with. Approach the situation with grace of course, because if you’re like me, gossiping has got you all riled up about the person so you’re going to yell and they will yell back … and it will not be pretty.

Don’t worry, confronting someone will usually make things awkward for a while. But not forever.

2. The people you gossip about have no chance to defend themselves.

If we talk about people behind their back, they have absolutely no chance to defend themselves. Sure, maybe they actually did something wrong, but maybe they didn’t.

Maybe, in gossiping, we are totally misunderstanding this person’s heart. If we had a one-on-one talk about the issue, we could get a better idea of what went on in their mind that made them do something, or maybe they didn’t think they were doing anything wrong. Talking to a person and asking for their side of the situation will be much more beneficial for both parties.

3. It changes the perspective of the person you’re gossiping to.

When you gossip about co-worker X to co-worker Y about co-worker X’s work ethic or something they did, you are changing co-worker Y’s perspective on co-worker X. Maybe co-worker X and co-worker Y were good friends and worked really well together, but you ruined it by telling co-worker Y a terrible story.

Now co-worker Y doesn’t want to work with co-worker X and treats him/her poorly. Even though co-worker X never did anything wrong to co-worker Y directly, co-worker Y has had their perspective changed by just a few words from you. It’s not fair to co-worker X or co-worker Y.

4. Someone could overhear your gossiping. 

The only thing worse than telling someone face-to-face that you have an issue with them, is that person hearing it from someone other than you. You know that feeling when you know someone has been talking about you instead of to you? It sucks.

Don’t cause that pain for someone else, even if they are deserving. It’s also a lot less awkward to confront someone about an issue before they hear from someone else that you actually have an issue.

5. The person you were gossiping to could be an ally of the person you’re gossiping about.

You’re screwed if this happens. That person is going to tell the other person what you said and they’re going to make it much more dramatic. They will twist your words and their own words (even if they were affirming you during your gossip sesh) to make it seem like you are the bad guy and they were doing all they could to defend their poor co-worker.

6. It’s addicting.

I’ve found that the more I gossip, the more I want to gossip. It’s easy to get sucked in, but it’s also easy to get out. It’s impossible to avoid hearing gossip and it’s hard to stop gossiping, but just practice telling people you simply “don’t care” about the gossip they want to tell you.

Furthermore, when you think of something you want to gossip about, just try and think of reasons why what you would say could hurt the people around the situation. The more gossip you have in your workplace or in your friend group, the worse off the culture of those places is going to be.

All in all, be more sensitive and think about the consequences of gossiping. I know we aren’t all sensitive people, but hurting other people’s feelings is universally pretty wrong. Try and remember that everyone you work with is human, and we all make mistakes.

Some people are terrible and it’s relieving to vent about things, but don’t make it a habit and be super careful who you are venting to. If someone makes a mistake or says something mean and you feel the need to gossip about it, just go talk to them and see if you can come up with a solution between the two of you without involving anyone else.

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