March 18, 2008

Managing Workplace Gossip

Office rumors and gossip can worsen or create conflict. Yet not all gossip is bad. Not all gossip is bad. Michael Morris, a psychology professor at Columbia University says that employees use it to bond and to glean valuable information they can’t access through official channels. Experts advise proactive measures to manage the rumor mill:
  • Separate the good from the bad -- differentiate between constructive and destructive gossip;
  • Learn to deflect -- respond to destructive gossip in as neutral a manner as possible;
  • Set a time limit -- protracted gossiping can lead to paralysis at the expense of efforts on a productive response to concerns;
  • Don’t overshare -- limit your number of confidants and the personal nature of conversations; and
  • Never gossip by e-mail -- leaving a paper trail increases vulnerability for a libel suit.
(Newsweek.) This is advice Ombuds may want to share with managers.

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