When To Cut Bait With Employees And Office Gossip

by on June 29, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Certain Employees Won’t Hear Your Pleas To End The Office Gossip

How do you know when enough is enough with office gossip? How do you know when to say stop? There are some clues that people send when you communicate with them that will let you know that literally you’re wasting your time. We tend to spend too much time with problem people to the detriment of our good people. It sends the wrong message. So how do you know when you’re wasting your time?

There’s some clues that whatever action we’re going to take needs to be accelerated. There’s time to accelerate the reality. First, you talk to someone about their office gossip habits, about their behavior. And they deny it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s not my problem.”

No one is going to work toward a solution to a problem they don’t acknowledge, they don’t admit to. Denial is one of the clues. If they deny the issue, then your chances of salvaging are pretty slim. Doesn’t mean you give up on it. But, you know, that you may want to accelerate your reality, you’re going to take a different path.

Now, say somebody says, “Okay, I’m working on it. You know, give me some help here. What about this? What about this? This is what I’m worried about.” Boy, then that’s the opening for me. This is the behavior. Here’s what to watch out for.

Another clue, they refuse to act. Most people are at least swift enough not to deny it to my face. “Oh, you know, I’ll work on it.” And they’re good for about six weeks. And then boom! They’re back at it again. Constant complaining.

And that is as bad as office gossip. That is destructive communication at work. So I sit down and I say, “Okay, your constant complaining has got to stop. You’ve lost your right to criticize this operation out loud. You can write down your complaints with a suggested solution. Submit to me on or about Fridays at 2 o’clock. We’ll go over only those complaints you have in writing with suggested solution on a weekly basis. If you can’t say anything nice, you can’t say anything at all.”

“You can’t do that.” This is behavior piece. This is what’s driving us, our customers. And really we owe this to our good people. There are people that don’t do this stuff to us. We awe the best we can to surround them with other good people.

So the refusal to act, even though they may not deny it to our face, if we’re going on this roller coaster ride every six weeks, we can also say in great documentation, “unproductive behavior pattern” Every six weeks, we’re going through some new issue. We need to level this out.

And the third clue, know when enough is enough, stop this continual coworker complaints. You’ve got people that are really sneaky with this stuff. And you don’t even see it. And you’ve got employees going, “So and so is doing this. So and so is doing this.”

Now, I’m careful about the tattletale behavior. But when it’s coming from good people, you know, when people I know and I trust in my unit, when Martha and Sam and Janice who I know and trust are all three of them individually complaining about George.

And even though I don’t see badmouthing or office gossip, can I still take action? Yes. I’m going to talk to George. “Your constant office gossip has got to stop. Your badmouthing me behind my back has got to stop. Badmouthing this company has got to stop.”

“Well, who says?” “Well, it’s not important who. It’s more than one. And I am convinced it’s going on. I’m not going to get in that so and so says. I’m not going to get in this tattletale thing. But once I become convinced it’s going on, then it’s my responsibility to take action. “I will know, George, when your behavior has changed, when the complaints about office gossip stop.”

Edited Remarks from “Gossip, Gab, and the Grapevine: How to Neutralize Its Negative Impact” by Hunter Lott

Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.