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Gossip in the Workplace: A Productivity Problem in Organizations

Currently, it is demonstrated that the phenomenon of workplace gossip reduces organizational productivity and has a series of psychological and social implications that we will discuss below.

This phenomenon of “cliques” created in the professional environment, based on gossip in the absence of the person being talked about, indicates serious problems at the organizational level regarding the fair distribution of the workload. If there is time for such discussions in an organization, it is clear that the focus is not on the clarity and proper execution of tasks, but on something else entirely.

Beyond the state of conflict, tension, and hostility for the organization, according to organizational psychodiagnosis, the following occur: decreased productivity, poorly managed professional time, and a lack of proper hierarchy (thus, subordinates might feel they can “pull the strings” with a superior or another colleague just because that person has been gossiped about, giving the impression that anything is allowed, which does not lead to a correct professional relationship).

First of all, gossip decreases productivity and changes behavior at the office. On the other hand, discussing others in their absence creates a state of unease. As an employee, when you hear that you are being gossiped about, you start to question everything you hear, making the atmosphere even more stressful. Trust gradually disappears to the point where you no longer feel safe at work.

Concrete Solutions to Avoid Involvement in Gossip and Cliques

  1. Do not actively participate in gossip: Any contribution to gossip, bringing pro or contra arguments about the person being discussed, only adds “fuel to the fire.” Choose to be transparent with your colleagues. If something upsets you about a colleague, go to them and tell them directly what bothers you. If things do not get resolved, avoid that colleague.
  2. Do not listen to gossip: Listening to gossip makes you a complicit. Leave that place and be an example. At the right moment, inform the management about how tasks are divided in the organization. A busy person does not have time to gossip because their focus is on what they have to do.
  3. Observe and act: If you notice tensions between colleagues, you can always call a specialist to participate in the discussion. Managers and authorized persons should be officially informed about this gossip time. Call the manager when these “gossip committees” gather and invite them in.
  4. Talk to the initiator of the gossip: If being an example and group discussions do not help eliminate the bad habit, talk to the culprit. Explain how colleagues can be affected by their actions and words. Inform them that there are legal ways to protect yourself, such as requesting damages for defamation and slander.
  5. Turn gossip into compliments: Encourage your colleagues to speak nicely about each other. At the next meeting, ask colleagues to note one thing to improve and three to praise about each present colleague. Have them read these out loud.
  6. Do not tolerate gossip: Some companies have a “zero tolerance for gossip” rule. What does this mean? Anyone who says something that can negatively affect a colleague is sanctioned. For example, a salary deduction. Although it may seem harsh, it is a beneficial rule for the group’s well-being.
  7. Defend yourself legally and know your rights: Note and archive all complaints. Discuss with the victim and prepare a report. If you are not in a leadership position, take the evidence to your superior and suggest an initial discussion with the culprit.

Currently, it is demonstrated by psychologists and psychiatrists that people who choose gossip as a solution are usually unhappy with their own lives. They feel validated, believing that this way they heal their own unfulfilled desires. They consider themselves justiciaries and confuse the people who gather around them with true friends.

Psychologist Claudia Nicoleta Vija



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