Watercooler Woes: 3 Handy Ways To Deal With Office Gossip Without Choking Your Coworker

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It didn’t matter if I was working at Wendy’s my sophomore year in high school, or as an attorney at a mid-sized law firm, there was always gossip to be dished and received while on the job. Whispers of whether the co-worker who worked the front register and janitor messed around, and side-eyes exchanged by fellow co-workers when the wife of a partner confronted her husband about his mistress DURING work hours happened all too often.

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You may have no interest in joining in on the wasteful jaunts about the personal and professional juicy stories of fellow employees and employers, or you may be the person spreading the distasteful details in the break room. Whatever your stance may be on the issue of office gossip, here are the three best ways of handling your scandal and/or avoiding unnecessary drama so that you may focus on the bigger issue, which is your job.

1. Keep Your Personal Life PERSONAL

If you do not want your personal affairs that take place after 5pm and during the weekend to make its way to your copy room, stop telling! This includes limiting what you share on social networks and while having a couple of happy hour cocktails with co-workers. Many of us have had work wives/husbands and those we feel comfortable enough to discuss personal issues with, however, please understand that your co-workers are not clergy, spouses and/or attorneys. This means nothing you say to them is privileged. Avoid being the topic of the month by keeping your personal life and work life separate.

2. Understand People’s Lives Are At Stake

You better believe that the person(s) bringing the juicy gossip to you are also salivating at the chops to receive information aboutyou. Whether their desire to share your personal or professional stories with others is based upon malicious intent, or their just having an incurable case of “runs of the mouth,” choose to opt out of receiving information from the work place gossip. For one, you will respect the privacy of those being gossiped about, and the office gossip will know up front not to come to you with unsolicited information about others. Additionally, they will also err of the side of caution about prying into your personal affairs. It will not benefit you in any way to spread information that may negatively affect a co-worker’s personal and professional endeavors.

3. Do Not Jeopardize Your Job.

At a particular job, I saw some thangs! My boss was not secretive in having his mistress at the office and I was also privy to many of his family’s secrets as well. Though I knew the behavior of most of the parties involved was not conducive to how I would live my life, I kept my eyes lows and my mouth shut before and after parted ways. Simply put, I was there to do a job and I could not busy myself with their Telenovela. It is hard enough to deal with workplace issues and politics while trying to do your best work, there is no need to complicate things by willingly being involved in and absorbing other’s issues.

 

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.

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