Engaging in drama and gossip can feel highly satisfying in the moment, and the juicier the gossip, the more satisfying the feeling. However, it can be a liability in the long-run. For one, gossip is often not true. In fact, you can hear multiple pieces of gossip that contradict each other. It’s possible those you’re hearing it from are lying to you.
However, it’s also possible (much like the game ‘telephone’), they believe they are telling the truth, perhaps something they, also, have heard secondhand. Relying on a piece of misinformation can result in forming unrealistic expectations. For example, when you’re new to a job, a coworker might warn you about a certain supervisor being really strict or let you know that another supervisor is really lax and you can get away with a lot. Or you might be told a rumor that So-and-So from Accounting and So-and-So from Sales are sleeping together.
Before even having dealings with these individuals yourself, you begin to form beliefs about their character and how they will treat you. These expectations cause you to feel resentment towards them immediately. It is less stressful not to know some information, especially in the workplace, if it doesn’t facilitate you doing your job or make your day any easier.
It’s easier to do your job and view your coworkers and superiors as fellow professionals if you aren’t aware of all their supposed dirty laundry. In the case of a supervisor with the reputation of being lax, it is dangerous to base your work off of that bit of gossip for fear it isn’t true, has been exaggerated, or causes the quality of your work to slip, possibly endangering your job security.
And I have personally experienced mentally taking the job home with me, as it’s hard to stop thinking about the negative things I’ve heard about people at work and how they will possibly affect me. Additionally, not partaking in the gossip mill puts you in the position to honestly claim ignorance on a sensitive topic if you are asked about your knowledge of it. In doing so, you won’t be forced to “choose sides”, which could make you a target. In general, keeping your work life professional by not participating in gossip and drama can help keep you sane, as well as help you make and retain the work relationships you need to succeed in your position.
Likewise, it is wise to be careful what information you offer about yourself to those at work. You must realize you are potentially in competition with your coworkers for promotions, incentives, and other perks, so it is important you maintain a rather sterile and professional image of yourself. For example, telling coworkers or your manager about drama going on with your relatives could cause them to see you in a different light or to make negative assumptions about you.
I recently started a new job and this topic has been on my mind. Already I have heard gossip and have been tempted to participate in the negativity. I figured I would write about it as a way to deal with it head-on while I’m thinking clearly, as well as to possibly relate with my readers. Have any of you been tempted to engage in workplace drama? Has workplace drama ever resulted in consequences for you or others?