You came to work, and the moment you entered your room– you are greeted with glanced look, hushed conversations and pursed smiles. You become conscious about yourself, looking to check if what you are thinking is right – and then your worst horror comes true. Yes, you are about whom everybody is talking about at work. And as Bertrand Russell had said, “No one gossips about other people's secret virtues” – you know they are definitely talking something off-putting.
We have all been part of this – gossip at work. Whether it’s positive or negative that’s besides the point; what matters is if we have engaged in spreading rumours or participated in it, then at some point, the gossip will also be about us.
Talking about someone’s work, about their dress-sense, food habit, personal relationships at work, the way he/she talks – without letting those people know have been the source of entertainment in office. The watercooler area is a place where rumour, gossips thrive – and we all share our anecdotes about someone or the other there.
Tackling a rumour which is about you is no less than fighting a battle like the one in the Hollywood blockbuster 300.
Here are few tips to help you overcome the emotional trauma of a bad rumour.
Ignore, and don’t react
Let’s face it. It’s not easy – specially if the rumour is about ‘spending too much time at work with someone from the opposite gender’. Your intention of working late and finishing projects might not have been ‘seen’ normally by a jealous co-worker. All these kinds of rumours usually die down fast. So give it that time. Don’t let it affect the work with the colleague, and once you finish your project, it will be there for everyone to see how you are not ‘spending time with that colleague’ beyond office hours anymore.
Confide in few colleagues
You must have a close group or even a person who is a buddy at work. When you hear some false and irrelevant stuff about you then, have a chat with your colleague-cum-friend. One support is usually good for us to fight these things. Because colleagues would want to know whether ‘what they heard is true’, and the person who would go to, to confirm is your friend or friends at work.
Confront the person who first said it
You know who said it, and you know where to find him/her. So go and confront that person – however make sure you keep it professional even then. You will be naturally very angry, but it is essential to manage the tone of your voice, then take the person to a private/conference room and talk it out. If the person denies, then call a few of your colleagues who have heard the rumour from that person. Usually the bullies are cowards, and they retract the moment they know their existence at work is in danger.
Take part in it & laugh
When you know the gossip is just a joke, or a sly remark which has received undue importance, then participate openly. Laugh about it with your colleagues saying that you heard people are talking about you, and how it is extremely funny. It is the best bet to make rumours die real fast. The gossip mongers would be gaping at you and will not know where to hide when they will know how you have reacted.
Call on HR if it damages your reputation as a professional
Not all rumours are for fun. There are malicious intents which get fuelled by jealousy and when these kinds of people see you succeed at your work, they usually want to take you down any which way. And gossip/rumour is the best way for them to attack you personally – because they know you are invincible at the professional front. If you get to know that there are people or a person whose intention is to just damage your reputation then, with all the details and proofs, go to the HR and lodge a formal complaint. Organisations usually have zero tolerance rules for such things.
Nobody can be a better motivator than your own beliefs. So instead of getting bogged down by such nasty comments, take charge and squash those office gossips like you would squash a mosquito. As sportsperson Michael Jordan said, “Don't let others drag you down by rumours. Just go with what you believe in.”