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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Office Gossips

I received this inquiry a couple of days ago..
Hi Edwin...

My concern is very minor but am sure a you can relate to this and would probably be willing to share your experiences...

We are about 26 employees all in all and with this count, i'd say we have a very cohesive team dynamics. Recently, personal and a few work-related issues started to come out in a form of gossip. you know...employee A telling employee B that so and so is like this and that. Then another group will have the same scenario. Then there is a new employee who joined the company, again there are "talks" about him.

Management has already addressed this by talking to the identified group and somehow, that helped.

My questions is, how do you address this concern as a whole? I mean, as one company, regardless if you're guilty of gossiping or not. I want to make a point that the office will not tolerate gossiping and that it affects everybody.

I plan to make a "lecture" emphasizing it but is there also a brief activity that addresses this concern also? sort of realization activity.

Thanks in advance. really appreciate it.

Here's my response:
I think there are two reasons why gossips thrive in a workplace

Reason #1 is the presence of a congenital gossiper(s) (in born chismoso or chismosa) or compulsive gossipers. If this is the case, I suggest that the identified gossipers be summoned and sternly warned about their behavior lest they'd be stricken off the payroll.

Reason # 2 could be an evidence of an eroding relationship in the team. When people use back channel politicking (aka gossiping) to vent their displeasure against other members of the team, it could mean that the trust level is declining. One of the primary indicators of declining trust level is poor communication, and the remedy also has something to do with communication. Three things I believe should be done:

1. Communicate with the team and discuss your observation as a manager and share with them how you feel about this.
2. Site that there is a need to establish a channel of communication for addressing issues or a norm if you will.
3. Agree on a set of norms that is aimed at improving trust and hence communication. Here are some possible norms that I got from previous teambuilding workshops I facilitated:

- Be willing to accept that you could be wrong before approaching the person
- If you have a problem, approach the person directly don't gossip with others
- Be open to accept criticism & opinions constructively
- Be open about your limitations & explore solutions
- Be sensitive to the needs or concerns of others
- Be willing to apologize or say sorry and accept others' apology.

I don't think there is a need for a realization activity but if you are really keen on having one, I found this one to having a very good potential:

I hope this helps.


  1. Good Advice.

    But can we really do away with office gossip.

  2. @Prakash, we can only try to prevent or avoid but I doubt if we can really do away with it.

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  5. Ahh... office gossips. It would be a very boring office without them.


    There will always be a chismosa in any group.

  6. The worst gossips are that coming from a supervisor or manager. I experienced this, when I was employed in a company where employees are unhappy - thus the huge turnover.

  7. @Gem, Gossips and rumors can come from any but they are worse when they come from managers and they're about how the company is being run. It could mean that management failed to become a cohesive team.

  8. reason #1 is definitely right. some people just can't live without talking about somebody else's life, and mind u, they are everywhere. been a victim. :(


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