How office gossip can hurt your job

Gossip can negatively affect everyone at the office.

A new Georgia Tech study by Eric Gilbert examined 600,000 e-mails from an Enron database and found that 15 percent were gossip e-mails. Gossip affects all employees, from the entry-level worker to the CEO. The average employee sends 112 e-mails each day. The number of e-mails and the amount of gossip will only grow, due to how connected we are as a society. Office gossip can hurt your career if you aren’t smart about it, because your co-workers could see you as dishonest and untrustworthy. When you’re building your career, you want to have a positive effect on the people around you so that they want to work with you, not against you. Here are three ways to handle office gossip:

Know the facts:
Figure out if the gossip has fact to it or not. Without mentioning names, ask the people around you if there is any truth to the e-mail or not. This way, you can assess whether it affects you or if it was just written to get attention.

Know your limits: Many of us use gossip to build trust and forge relationships with our colleagues. If you find yourself spreading gossip, try and remove yourself from those types of conversations the best you can. For instance, don’t go to the next happy hour with your colleagues.

Ignore it completely: Understand that any e-mail you send can be easily forwarded to one or more people within seconds. It’s much better to not get involved in office gossip altogether, because the talk can come back to you. You don’t want people saying bad things about you when you’re trying to build a career.

Encourage more positive conversations: In order to create a positive work environment, spread company victories and public news instead of secrets. Try taking the lead and sharing positive information with your colleagues, and they might follow.

– Dan Schawbel is the founder of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and consulting company. Subscribe to his updates at
Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


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