Happier Workplace: A week without Gossip

“Did you hear the news?!”…well this kind of gossip setting sounds ok to me…(seen at Galata Bridge, Istanbul, Turkey)

For those of you who are employed:

I am currently working on another approach to increase happiness, respectively to decrease unhappy feelings:

Staying away from gossip at work.

You know that situation: The day get’s long, one needs a break and goes for a coffee in the canteen, or simply drop by at a colleague to have a chat.

Very often, especially when the overall atmosphere in the company is somehow tensed, or when people are stressed or afraid of something, it quickly comes to rumors and gossip about what might happen in the future.

“Did you hear what this and this guy said, this and this department will be closed?”

“Did you hear that our new boss will be that sociopathic guy xyz?”

“Did you know there are people who say this and this benefit will be cut soon?”

“Did you know that this and this guy was sacked because of….”

This might be a good way to distract yourself from your work for a few minutes. And it might also give a sense of insider-knowledge and conspiracy. But beware:

Like watching too much TV news, all this rumors are very likely to set you in a constant state of alarm and stress, two very fearsome enemies of happiness.

Each time you hear bad news you will produce some adrenalin (not too much, but some). Each time you will suffer a tiny blow to your relaxation and self-confidence (not a big one but it adds). Each time you will lose a bit of the nice and comforting feeling (that hopefully was there in the first place) that after all you more or less like your job.

The problem with most rumours is that they are most likely of negative or potentially dangerous nature. This is the same for TV news and follows from the laws of information economics:

Good news are considered boring.

I found out about the negative impact of rumors and gossip on my well-being after I returned to office from a two-month break (paternal leave). I came back quite motivated and with positive feelings towards my company, colleagues and my work in general.But the more I listened to all the negative talk around, the more that positive attitude was lost…

Bad news are thrilling, alarming, are remembered and thus travels fast and tend to get exaggerate each time they are told.

And then there is the kind of gossip about colleagues: “who said what”, “who did what” and “who did what wrong”.

This type of gossip is also contra-productive for your happiness and well-being:

  • You will get more and more suspicious.
  • You should remember that people who mock about others are likely to mock about you as well once you are away.
  • If you tell negative things about others you will make enemies and it is likely that something of the bad talk will be reflected on yourself.
  • You will lose your general positive attitude (if you had it) towards your colleagues, bosses and your company.

Now, while I don’t say you have to love your bosses and agree with everything,

try for a week not too complain and mock at all. Let others gossip but stay out!

And if you want to do something then concentrate on acting! Think what YOU can change about the situation instead of feeding the office grapevine.

Some tips that might help you:

  • Understand that most rumors and gossip do not reflect reality at all.
  • Understand that false rumors might even be spread tactically by some people to achieve something.
  • Understand that a real event, you will get to know soon enough. At the rumor stage there is nothing yet.
  • Understand that because most rumors are not followed by fact, it is not worth spending time and nerves with gossip.
  • Understand that if you are viewed as a discrete person, you will more likely get the important information should there be any.
  • Understand that most gossip is a child of by boredom and not of fact.

And for those who have their own business: Maybe you are not so much endangered, but I think the general dangers of gossip (and too much news) hold true in any case, may it be with customers, peers or competitors…

Woodpecker

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4 comments on “Happier Workplace: A week without Gossip

  1. I think this is very smart advice. I now work from home so workplace gossip is eliminated, but before I did I remember how distracting the underlying drama between co-workers could become. Avoidance was the best way to stay out of it.

    • mrwoodpecker says:

      Hi Stephanie,
      congratulations on having the opportunity to work from at home!
      I do the same two days a week since about 2 months – great experience, better concentration and less stress, I can everybody recommend to try it if possible.

  2. […] then news in the internet tend to follow the economics of information, i.e. the most agitating and threatening news and scenarios will prevail, no matter how realistic […]

  3. […] department, company or position (that’s all speculation and you cannot change it anyway), keep away from the office gossip. Learn to just wait and see without speculating. Accept the price you have to pay for downshifting. […]

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