A Guide To Overcoming Gossip 🗣 and People’s Perceptions 👀
What if... you become the talk of the town in your office or organizations?
Once upon a fine day, you were walking down the office aisle with cold brew in your hands. Laptop bag swinging across your body. You were looking around, like any other day, and then finding a couple of eyes watching you walk with their mouth forming whispers you didn’t know the content to.
You grew wary from the behaviour. And, as if it couldn’t get any better, you overheard someone talking about the argument you have with one of your coworkers. “It wasn’t even half true!” You were thinking in the bathroom stall as your lanyard is swinging anxiously and you felt like the stall was your best place to settle. You were both angry and annoyed at how everyone ate the “tea” up — and that wasn’t even the truth!
In no time did the gossip grow like measles in an elementary class. Now, every single coworker that you meet couldn’t look you in the eye — nor did you to them.
It is inevitable for groups that constantly work together to have disagreements. And that disagreement would lead to offensive acts — and more often than not, it would lead into gossip. And, though it is a pleasure to listen to one’s gossip, it is simply not as entertaining to hear gossip directed about you. Joseph Grenny in his article puts it simply precise: “This kind of gossip is communication minus responsibility. It is a collusive counterfeit to problem solving.”
Now, people’s perception of you is polluted. So, how can you handle it?
Be open to communication
If you’re thinking that you’re going to apologise to the whole office? Girl, no. The first thing that you’re able to do is to seek out communication with the involved party. You can sort things out with them and look for the middle ground: “If you find my words or actions uncomfortable, I really want to understand it and perhaps a feedback to create a middle ground to bridge our communication style.”
By establishing openness to compensation and a willingness to to hold others accountable can encourage them to manage their response the next time a miscommunication occurs.
Address it by not addressing
Maybe, after that confrontation with the involved party, you would get agitated when people are still talking about your problem — even when it has already reached a solution. Now, you feel the need to address the issue. “Maybe it can lessen the impact.” You thought. Well, the only way to address the gossip is you don’t.
Try to understand that you do not owe anyone’s apology except for the involved party. It would be pointless to try to apologise and try to address everyone. It would be like adding salt to the ocean.
So, save up your energy for something much more significant!
Let’s put it this way: gossip does spread faster, but it also perishes faster too. You’re addressing the situation by not addressing it directly. The only thing that you should do is to focus on yourself. If you have negative feelings towards the situation, I’d say to redirect your annoyance and anger to achieve your goals. Because at the end of the day, you cannot control the way gossip works. Nor would you be able to control somebody’s perception.
You shouldn’t overthink and involve your energy around something that you can’t control. Instead, I believe, you should stand your ground and redirect your energy to focus on your goals. Gossip can be truly dysfunctional to one’s relationship. You can reduce its impact by eliminating knowledge voids, fostering feedback, and encouraging relationships beyond coworker consideration. If you’re able to do this, I can assure you that people’s perception is going to change for the better.
So, the answer is: no. You cannot control people’s perception, but you can control what you do. And with redirecting it to positive activities, you’re able to shift people’s perception to revolve around your achievements.
Then, maybe… the office pantry would not be so intimidating anymore for you.
Inspired by Joseph Grenny’s “How to Handle Office Gossip … When It’s About You” and Bassuk and Lew’s “The Antidote to Office Gossip”
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