The Truth About Office Gossip

What is more fun than hearing about the misfortunes or misdeeds of a fellow worker? Does life in the office offer any sweeter revenge than seeing a nasty boss or surly subordinate get his comeuppance? None — and that is a memory you can (and will) carry with you forever.

Office gossip is like junk food: You can pretend you don’t like it . . . you can publicly denounce it . . . but 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 — and compensated by — 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 a promise today. Gradually, over time, you will indulge yourself 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. That’s a level I don’t think I’ll ever get to. Well, I shouldn’t say “never.”


When it comes to sales, advertising, and art, every style has its fans. Out of every 10 people you create an ad for…or write a poem for… or make a painting for…two, three, or four will instantly like it. Another two, three, or four will immediately despise it. It is the group in the middle that determines your success.

[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.]