Office gossip is like junk food: You can pretend you don’t like it, you can even publicly denounce it, still you know you can’t completely resist it.
But try. Like so many things in life, office gossip is a temporary indulgence with long-lasting, undesirable side effects. For one thing, it damages team spirit. This is no small cost if you are concerned with team productivity. For another thing, it demeans your stature. Even your co-conspirators will think less of you for doing what they themselves know they shouldn’t do. If you consider the kinds of activities you can engage in at work, this falls into the lowest category. It’s not only unproductive, it’s destructive.
Make yourself this promise today: Gradually you will indulge less in this bad habit. Start by desisting from gossiping yourself. The next step is to maintain a neutral position when someone brings it to you. The ultimate step is to be able to discretely change the subject without seeming like a wet blanket. If you find you’re having trouble watching your tongue, try this: The next time someone attempts to get you to join him in badmouthing a colleague or employee, imagine that your comments are being broadcast to the entire company through a speaker system. Speak as closely to the truth as you can, but try not to say anything that you wouldn’t say in front of everybody.[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]