Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a coworker’s gossip:
I have a coworker that has gone out of his way to put my personal business out at work. He’s embellished some details to make me appear bad and less of a human being. It’s one thing if I were to put out this info but I’m not and now other coworkers see me in a lesser light than what I should be seen. It’s petty I know, but is there any thing I can do?
Signed, It Makes Me Look Bad
Dear It Makes Me Look Bad:
Probably there is little you can do unless your coworker has spread false information that seriously damages your reputation and/or costs you a loss, such as saying you committed a crime that you didn’t or that you had a sexually transmitted disease that you did not. If that happened you might consult an attorney. Why do you think this happened? Was your coworker malicious or just gossiping in order to make listeners think he was privy to juicy personal information?
You don’t say how you know this particular individual knew of and disclosed personal information about you that could make you look bad, nor do you say how you’ve handled it so far. One option is to confront the individual you believe told and embellished it. The least you could do is to ask him what and if he passed on about you. And you can firmly convey your displeasure about that.
Unfortunately, gossip is all too common even within the workplace. Some gossip is accurate. That which is about what is going on can be helpful, such as talk about what kind of health insurance is good or about layoffs. Some gossip helps others know what to expect from the boss. Some gossip passes on denouncing what is unacceptable such as that which is rude and/or inconsiderate.
But the fact is that your coworkers and you are not paid to gossip, and therefore management has a right to discourage it, especially that which smears the reputation of one another or provokes one to fighting words. This poses one option; to consult your manager and request that he/she puts a stop to gossip. Apparently, you are quite distressed since this disclosure provoked you to write the Workplace Doctors. What you heard was said about you was shameful enough that your chose not to specify what it was.
Ironically, that avoidance of you repeating what was said provides another option of how to cope. That is to ignore it. Allow new gossip replace the topic of your personal business that was disclosed. Before long likely you will soon be the only one who thinks about what was disclosed. So don’t allow this be obsess you; to have it rumble about in your head, and above all don’t gossip about this coworker to gossiped about you.
This unhappy incidence could be a learning experience for you: It could make you more cautious about your own behavior that could make you unhappy to have it disclosed. It could prompt you to avoid badmouthing others. It could raise your consciousness of how important it is to not say something that might cause an individual to lose face. And most importantly, it could motivate you to refocus from what others think of you to what really matters to your work organization; such as it being a responsible community corporate citizen and a company that is profitable.
To that end, rather than allowing this event play and replay in your head, you could think about and initiate conversation about practical matters that will keep your company alive; such as ways to cut wasted supplies, time, energy, and money.Talk about what matters is contagious and beneficial to your company and to you. That is what underlies my signature: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.