Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about gossip: She says I have bad hygiene and also talks bad about other girls.
In my work place the head cashier talks bad about me and says I have bad hygiene. She also talks bad about other girls. All my coworkers tell me to ignore her because she talks bad about everyone. I hate going to work when she’s there. My stomach even gets upset! What can I do?
First let me respond to your situation, then I want to comment on the whole gossip issue.
1. Sometimes gossip is false and sometimes it is true. Do you know you are as clean, neat and fresh smelling as possible? Do a mental checklist of all the things involved: A shower and antiperspirant every day, clean and well groomed hair at all times, clean clothes and underwear every day, clean teeth and gums and fresh breath, tidy fingernails, well-maintained shoes, an overall look that appears to be very clean and tidy and very fresh smelling and looking. If any of those things need improvement, the gossip may be telling the truth! Other people may be repeating what she says in the hopes you will do something about it. I’m not saying it IS true, but it is so specific that it should make you concerned, until you can know for sure she is lying or mistaken.
If you still wonder, go to your supervisor and ask her how you are doing at work and if there is some issue you could improve on. Or, ask her directly, like this:”Mrs. Morris can I ask you something? I want to do a good job here and want to make sure I look and act the best way I can. But, you know how gossip gets going, and I heard that someone said my hygiene wasn’t good. I don’t see how that could be, because I think I’m clean and neat. So, I decided to ask you. Is there something I could improve?”I’m sure you would like to know once and for all that there isn’t a problem about your hygiene.
Once you know that the cashier will be easier to deal with. Also, the fact that you ask the supervisor may get back to the cashier and let her know that her actions have been noticed. My personal preference, if I had any concern, would be to go directly to the head cashier and say, “Karen, I heard that you think I have a hygiene problem. I sure don’t want that! What is it that you’ve noticed? Tell me so I can fix it.”If you do that, you will either hear her comments or she will deny saying it, but she will know she has been found out.I don’t expect you will do that, and I can understand your nervousness about it, but it would be a good way to handle it.
2. About your upset stomach over working with the cashier. Keep this in mind: She can’t hurt you and she can’t fire you. If she is as unpopular as you say she is, she has very little influence with most people. And, you say you are not the only one she talks about, so that should dilute some of your feelings. Often head cashiers have been around a long time. She may feel that she has a right to be the semi-supervisor. She may have been allowed to get by with her behavior because the supervisor or manager needs her in her job. Or, she may be liked by many others, just not those who have talked to you about her.Rather than ignoring her, why not make a point of at least being courteous and friendly as you would be to any coworker with whom you want to have a good relationship? It will be more difficult for her to talk bad about you if you have smiled at her several times and said hello or asked how she is doing. You don’t have to act like her best friend, but you could at least act like a strong person who is not helpless.
3. About the gossip: The head cashier wouldn’t be gossiping if no one listened or if your coworkers made it clear to her they don’t like it.So, at least some of your coworkers are listening to the gossip and passing it along. In this case, if they told you what she said and they didn’t agree with it, what did they say to her to stop it? Many people say they just try to avoid a gossiping person. But that doesn’t let the person know the gossip is unwelcome.Last week a young woman told me she has stopped a gossiping coworker from talking to her in that way by saying something like, “I made a promise to myself that I’m not going to bad-mouth anyone for a full month, so I can see what it’s like to only say good things. So, we have to change the subject now.”
She says it with a smile and she says it has been working very well! Also, this can be a reminder to you to not listen to negative things…even about the head cashier. You must admit, people talk bad about her too! So, every time people stand around talking bad about her behind her back, they are doing the same thing they complain about! Instead focus on your own work do it better than anyone else if you can. Be the one who never talks bad about anyone. Or, if there is a problem, talk to the person directly. Be an example of what a pleasant, positive person should be.You will enjoy work more when you can get this whole matter of gossip and rumors under control. And you can’t do that until you get yourself and your own thoughts and actions under control. Don’t be pulled and pushed by rumors and gossip. Do your work well and keep moving forward in your mind and spirit.Best wishes to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.
Tina Lewis Rowe