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Keep that office gossipmonger at bay

Posted by Sathyamurthy www.sathyamurthy.com on September 24, 2006

EACH ONE of us has come across this person. He uses innuendos, hints and associations to speak bad about other people. We end up having a bad impression of whoever he is talking about. Intelligently, he twists the information and speaks everything indirectly. It is impossible to nail such persons down. Often, these persons become so irritating; our impulse suggests us to meet the boss immediately. Such a behaviour will impact us negatively and the gossipmonger attains more freedom in his business. The only approach towards a solution is to deal effectively with the gossiper.

Such persons are called “poop stirrers” because they are filled with feelings of powerlessness. They need to have information that others may not have to become powerful. If this person is well-known for having information about things going on in the office, people tend to seek him out for the latest tidbit. In this manner, the poop stirrer regains power, but in an illegitimate way.

The common characteristic of gossip mongers is that they are not firm on the information being shared and lack confidence. They bait others with little information. Curious people get hooked and have to hear many illegible so-called facts. Firstly, you can avoid such conversations by expressing your disinclination towards hearing bad things about other people. The target will be changed to a safe person curious to hear such things. You are left alone.

Most of them talk in a vague manner. The advantage of being vague is that it minimises risk. You can insist him to be specific in his account about anyone. When the gossip-monger understands that you do not accept things without proof, you get to hear lesser number of such tidbits.

Interrupt the information flow. If it is quite sure most of your colleagues perceive him in the same way as you do, a collective action can help stop the problem. Neither you nor your colleagues should participate in the information exchange. Everyone should have a neutral attitude towards his comments. The moment he loses his audience, he is sure to divert the topic himself.

Try to divert attention towards his work. If you can find out how good he is at work, you can discuss his strengths and opportunities whenever you meet him. You will be amazed at his interest to ignore gossip and speak about the future.

If such gossipmongers are back on track, a polite reminder can do wonders. Restate the fact that you do not want to engage in that type of discussion and change the subject immediately. You can divert his attention towards something useful to the organisation. His problems of lack of power will fade as you get in regular touch with him.

Gossipmongers are powerless and like little children, they try to explore ways to feel more powerful. The grapevine is dangerous to all the employees and can hinder organisational growth to a great extent

Source: http://www.thehindu.com

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