The oh-so-familiar two-headed monster known as gossip is something we’ve all caught ourselves engaging in. On the one hand, it can be extremely satisfying to indulge in a gossip session, and in the heady rush of the moment it may feel absolutely harmless. But gossip’s nasty two-headed nature is such that you may feel a ‘hangover’ effect after that rush has worn off – feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment often sneak up once you are no longer surrounded by your friends or colleagues. Like in most cases, these feelings of guilt from hurting someone are appearing for a reason, and are likely something you should listen to. Below are three steps you can take to recover from the fallout of loose lips, to help you avoid unnecessarily sinking any ships.
Gossip is a guilty pleasure, and it’s one we have all been participating in since grade school. It’s familiar, easy, and can be a lot of fun. Very often you might get swept up in gossip even when you have the best of intentions. So when you feel badly after you’ve said things you wish you had not, don’t spend too long dwelling in the guilt. Forgive yourself, but remember the old expression “sorry means making changes”, and at the same time tell yourself you will be more conscious and careful in the future.
Once you have acknowledged that you were indeed gossiping and realize it wasn’t the right thing to do, think about seeking forgiveness. This could mean apologizing directly to the co-worker you were talking about – and that might be appropriate depending on the situation – but it doesn’t have to. You might simply make an effort to say as many kind things as you did cruel ones, or go out of your way to do something thoughtful for the colleague or person in question. Apologies need not be direct to have the effect of smoothing things over and mending hurt feelings.
Disengage and get off the train
After you are satisfied with how you’ve come to terms with what happened in the past, the only thing left to do is leave it there. This means stopping gossip in its ugly, insidious tracks. The next time you hear those recognizable hushed tones either ignore them, change the subject, or even explicitly say that you’re not comfortable talking about co-workers when they aren’t there. Gossip tends to have a snowball effect, and the only thing you can do to end it is just that: end it.
Gossip thrives in small, closed environments and offices are no exception. Topics may differ from who might be getting let go to speculations on office romances, but the effects are the same: gossip hurts. As fun as it can be, gossip is ultimately damaging, not only to those you speak about, but to your own reputation as well.
When you spread gossip, your personal brand is compromised and your self-worth suffers – and this is the most important reason of all to stop.
By Zoe Wilkie