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Gossiping at the Office? Rumor Has It That It’s …

If you’ve ever tuned into the hit show “The Office,” whether it’s the BBC version that’s written and directed by Ricky Gervais or the NBC knock off with Steve Carell, you know that gossip in the workplace is as common as coffee breaks and the pointless meeting. The unique comedy is a tongue-in-cheek, documentary-style series that points out the humor and banality of the 9-to-5 existent in the working world of white-collar professionals.

For the sake of comedy, the show takes jabs at the office environment with inappropriate remarks and petty behaviors, which include rumor mongering and backstabbing. Office gossip is something you certainly wouldn’t want to be a part of if you’re the target of the insufferable office manager David Brent, played by Gervais. But in the real world, is office gossip really that insufferable? Like many human behaviors, there are two sides to the coin.

We are a world of gossipers. There’s little doubt about that. A recent study in Great Britain found that one in five people in the United Kingdom use instant messaging at work to spread office gossip. In most cases, the word is thought of in a negative manner, as in Walter Winchell’s famous quote that “Gossip is the art of saying nothing in a way that leaves practically nothing unsaid.” In their book, Gossip: Ten Pathways to Eliminate It from Your Life and Transform Your Soul,” authors Laurie Palatnik and and Bob Burg refer to gossip as a “fired bullet – once you hear the sound, you can’t take it back.”  The authors recognize that gossip has been around since human came into existence, and continues to be “a popular but destructive pastime.”

But is gossiping always bad? Many agree that spreading rumors about the personal affairs of others is out of line, but gossip is also a vehicle that can help pass along vital corporate and workplace information. Since companies and supervisors tend to keep delicate matters under wraps, hearing important news from the office grapevine is sometimes the only forum employees have. Conversely, using that same grapevine can work in your favor. It can be used to relay success on a project, or, when the direct approach isn’t the best approach, get the word out to a fellow employee that you’re not happy with his or her conduct.

Women traditionally are associated with gossiping more than men, but the fact is that both sexes are involved in the behavior. It’s just that men and women tend to gossip about different things. But when it comes to office-related issues, both men and women have a stake in the rumor mill when the news directly affects the employers or company.

There are, of course, Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to taking part in office gossip. The first is to give and take it in small doses. Nobody wants to spend much time with or invest too much in the lead gossiper.

Keep the gossip on a professional level and work-related, like if you’ve heard of pending layoffs or a hiring freeze. Don’t result to petty attacks on co-workers. Always consider the source of the gossip and the motivation behind them. If the person you hear them from has zero credibility or is passing along harmful personal information about someone else, take the high road and don’t pass along the gossip.

Finally, if you’re caught gossiping about something and are called on the carpet by a friend, co-worker or boss, own up to it. If you’re willing to risk spreading gossip then you should be able to stand up to the heat and explain your intentions.

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Read more articles from Teena Rose by visiting 

http://www.resumebycprw.com/resume_articles.htm

Teena Rose is a columnist, public speaker, and certified/published resume writer with Resume to Referral. She’s authored several books, including including "20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer" "How to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book" and "Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales."