To err is human – sure. But, one can easily make the case that to gossip is human too.
Man, woman, child or senior - everyone has gossiped at some point in his or her life.
Chewing the fat with others is appealing for the attention it evokes, both for the speaker and the subject matter. The juicier the topic, the better the gossip. It's a common social phenomenon that can lead to some interesting scenarios, especially in the workplace.
Gossip among coworkers can cause hurt feelings and unnecessary tensions. When this happens,morale suffers and productivity inevitably declines. A bit of tantalizing banter between close friends can be therapeutic, but outright gossip in the workplace is not suggested. But, where there are people, there is gossip.
The Houston Chronicle recently compiled some suggestions on how to deal with the workplace rumor mill when it gets churning.
* Stay out of the conversation: If lunch breaks with coworkers routinely turn from "American Idol" recaps to the degradation of the head of accounting, it's best to resist the urge to join the gossip, even if it's a daily topic. Instead, propose a change in subject.
* Take a walk: Sometimes the easiest way to lessen gossip in the workplace is to not let is spread. When coworkers get started on one juicy topic or another, the act of simply walking away will send a message to the guilty parties, as well as disassociate you with the conversation.
* Keep it to yourself: Whether you're trapped in an office conference room or strapped into a coworker's car, there are many scenarios where workplace gossip can arise, yet you are unable to diffuse the conversation or leave it altogether. When this happens, it's best to ride out the gossip tidal wave and avoid propelling the negativity by repeating anything others say.
* Defend yourself: In the unlikely event that you become the target of workplace gossip, experts suggest sharing the problem with management and HR, as well as keeping a log of all incidents.
Gossip has a pretty negative connotation. Thus, it's interesting to note that there is such a term as" productive gossip" in the workplace. Forbes notes a recent study by two professors at the University of Amsterdam who studied why people gossip and the results such chatter has on a business that runs as a cohesive group.
In the study, researchers asked 221 students to describe the last time they gossiped about someone they work with and why. The study found that gathering or fact-checking information was the most significant reason why employees talked negatively about their peers.
According to Forbes, The theory behind productive gossip is that evolution caused gossip to play an important role in the development of our society. Getting along as a group has always made people safer and offered opportunities to share resources. But, as group members inevitably don't pull their weight, gossip became the quickest (and often the most sensational) way to tell others in a group about the shirkers.
In an office setting, knowing who is not pulling their weight and why can benefit the entire company, and not just prove to be interesting lunch chatter.