Get advice on how to deal with jerks at work Check out the book 'Jerks At Work' and other titles by Ken Lloyd Ph.D. Return to the homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.

You asked, Ken answers ...

This item is filed under these categories:
Assertiveness Gossip Bizarre Behaviors Communication

One of my co-workers is a big gossip. She is always talking about what other people are doing or not doing. I have tried to get her to stop, and I have even told her that our manager says he wants us to focus on our work and not on gossiping. She says she is not gossiping because what she is saying is the truth. Is she right?

Your fellow employee is wrong on two counts. First, gossip is idle chatter and about the affairs of other people, regardless of whether such drivel is fact or fiction. Secondly, your employee is wrong by acting in a way that contradicts what your manager has said.

When employees immerse themselves in gossip, the outcome is a no-win situation. The company loses because time that should be spent on work-related matters is wasted or disrupted by inane conversations. In addition, whether accurate or inaccurate, gossip can bring pain and stress to anyone whose name is included in the banter. And further, being known as the company gossip does not do much to advance an employee’s credibility, reputation, or career.

Rather than merely trying to stop the verbiage, you need to act more assertively. The next time she approaches you with one of her tales, tell her you are not interested, and then ignore her comments and continue whatever you were doing. By making a gossip feel ignored and unimportant, you are removing some of the most important rewards for a gossip. This may or may not stop her gossiping, but it should stop her gossiping to you.

Comment on this item

Your name (optional)
If you leave this blank, we'll list you as "Website visitor"

Your comments
Please keep your comments focused on the topic. Thanks!