Workplace Gossip

Question:

I work with a gossip. She has told employees someone is pregnant by guessing because of the schedule, and that somebody lost the baby and everyone knew she was pregnant. At the front desk, she has pointed out someone’s erectile medication and laughed that his wife is 24 yrs younger. She straight out talks about anyone and everyone, from one topic to another. (Everyone except her own husband who has had troubles.)

She has looked at other’s wages and has blurted out what they make. (We were told when we were hired that was a firing offense.) Plus it hurt me to know freshly hired 21 year olds were making more than me. They are assistants and I am office though, and it did inspire me to go back to school for Nursing. But people are hurt and patients who trust us are gossiped about, everyone is fair game and it is cruel and hard to watch. I know it is wrong. She doesn’t have an edit button, and her affect is completely off. She eagerly smiles and changes her entire facial features in the presence of new information that will benefit her need to gossip. She is a liability and all know it, and nobody does a thing.

So here is a question to which I think I know the answer: Should I leave this job now and look like a job hopper, since I would only be at the next job for a short while since I graduate in 1 year from nursing? Or so I will have over 5 years at this job if I stay and my reason for leaving is I attended school full-time and while working full-time, I would be leaving to work as a nurse vs. a receptionist. It is in my best personal interest to stay, but ethically and morally it is not in my best interest. Help.

Signed,

Quit or Stay?


Answer:

Dear Quit or Stay?:

Should you quit because you work with a gossip and those in charge have not called a halt to it? Is that the way to word your question? You hinted you know the answer to your question. Sometimes, describing what troubles you as you did in your e-mail, helps sort out the pros and cons that informs an answer. In your case, I doubt that there is one best answer. You are on a good career path and soon will be wanted. Nurses are wanted. So what’s the hurry?

Ms. Gotta’ Tell is teaching you about the importance of privacy and that managers do not always manage as they ought. That can happen anywhere and those who see unethical or indiscrete acts of co-workers, subordinates or superiors are faced with choices; to bite their tongue, to weigh if what appears wrong is really a problem or just an annoyance that calls for you to professionally speak with the wrong doer and/or find a way to indirectly engage one’s workgroup to follow or make new rules. You are at such a crossroads; if you were Ms. Gotta Tell would you want another employee to report what she thinks you did wrong or come to you first? Or to simply keep her opinion to her self? Answer those two questions and you have a solution to your irritation with Ms. Gotta. Having the courage to confront a gossip can be as stressful as confronting a co-worker who has body odor. But somebody’s got to do it. Working together is not always as expected, but we learn to cope, confront and communicate even when it is difficult; or we grin and bear it. Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and wherever you work that is needed and appreciated.

William Gorden