Stop Gossip By Managers

Question for Ask the Workplace Doctors about how to stop gossip by managers:

At my workplace, we are having trouble with focusing on our goals and missions as a company. Often times, rumors and gossip, flow endlessly throughout our staff in a way which is overtaking. I find that not only is it the employees and persons in their younger ages, but more and more the management is beginning to consume themselves with the “drama.” We would all do better if we could stop the gossip by managers.

I find this to be a very important and crucial time for our specific company. We are now going on 5 years of being open and the initial excitement of the establishment is quickly dying. I believe that we have many options to bring business back.  However, I also believe that with so much negativeness being spread around, that this could either make us again or break us completely.

Management is set up to give us someone to respect. We are meant to see these people as role models and for guidance on issues. It is hard to do so while our management consumes their own time with finding out the latest gossip and adding to it with their own two cents or opinion. What hope is there in reversing this spell? Is it possible to stop gossip by managers without hiring all new management?

Signed, Want Gossip Stopped

Dear Want Gossip Stopped:

Options of what may improve or correct the situation and stop gossip by managers, may include any of the following:

*Distance yourself from the situation as a whole. Stay as far away as possible from the “drama”.

*Secondly, smile and ignore the petty remarks of co-workers. Ignorant people can be quite irritating and the more you surround yourself with the negative aspects of others, the more frustrating the situation will become.

*Lastly, do not pick sides. Be the positive vibe, the person whom your co-workers respect. Do not involve yourself with bad vibes.

The option I think best is to distance or remove oneself from any and all negativity in the workplace. We are all there to WORK. We are there to perform well and to the best of our ability to produce the best possible results. If we form healthy relationships, great! If not, well, we weren’t there for that reason in the first place. However, when such situations arise attempt to make the most responsible choice in the matter.

Tina Lewis Rowe says, “Focus on your own work and be as good as you can be at it. Ask your supervisor if he or she has suggestions for how to increase your speed or accuracy or whatever might be an issue. Develop a good working relationship with supervisors and/or managers that is sincerely focused on helping the company make money through your quick and accurate work. Be such an employee and coworker that no one will stand by and do nothing if someone says something unpleasant to you. And be such an employee and coworker, that you will say something supportive to the person who is being mistreated by others, as well as telling the other person to stop.”

She says, you can’t control how the coworker acts. But you can control how you respond to it. I’m not advising you to ignore it, but it sounds as though the way you are responding is not making a positive difference either. Rowe suggests attempting this approach and doing it consistently:

“Keep the mind-set that you have a right to be there and to be a fully functioning employee who is pleasant, a contributor and a person of value to others and the company. Walk confidently and happily down the hallways, as though you and everyone else can share them just fine. Nod, smile, do a quick wave, or otherwise acknowledge people when you see them–including the unfriendly coworker.”

Negativity sucks away energy. If part of the negativity stems from your attitude or perspective, commit yourself at the beginning of each day and each activity to find something positive in yourself and in others around you. If the people around you are negative and you can’t change that, either remove yourself from the situation or view it simply as one obstacle you face in pursuing your own potential. Remain focused on your own individual goals and make the best of the situation.

Sometimes, you can help the employee turn the negativity around. Your best approach is to not let the negativity get started in the first place, but if it’s already creating destruction in your workplace, there are steps that one can take.

(1) Inform the employee about the negative impact her negativity is having on coworkers and the department. Use specific examples that describe behaviors the employee can do something about.

(2) Avoid becoming defensive. Don’t take the employee’s negative words or attitude personally. They are not directed at you. For whatever reason, the employee is unhappy with his or her life.

(3) Ask the employee if something negative is happening in her personal life that is affecting her workplace success. For example, a divorce affects every aspect of an employee’s life. You’re not a therapist or counselor but knowing lets you offer sympathy or another appropriate expression. It can also help the employee see that you are interested in and concerned about them as a person. You must ask the employee to keep the personal issues from affecting workplace performance.

4) Ask the employee what is causing his negativity at work. Listen to the employee’s complaints and concerns until you’re certain that the employee feels heard out and listened to. Sometimes people repeat negative sentiments because they don’t feel as if you have really heard them. Make sure that you have actively listened.

(5) Focus on creating solutions. Don’t focus on everything that is wrong and negative about the employee’s outlook or actions in your approach.

(6) Focus on the positive aspects of her performance and the potential contributions the individual brings to the work setting, not the negativity. Help the employee build her self-image and capacity to contribute.

(7) In the future, when interacting with the employee, try to compliment the individual any time you hear a positive statement or contribution rather than negativity from her. You’ll want to reinforce, as much as possible, the positive interactions the employee has with other employees and the workplace.

I hope all these ideas will inspire you to do your part and help others as well.

Bill Gorden