Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: WestAussieGirl on January 23, 2013, 06:34:43 PM

Title: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: WestAussieGirl on January 23, 2013, 06:34:43 PM
Reading the career sins thread had me thinking about a situation at my office.  One of the married women in my office was very chummy with her (also married) supervisor.  Coffee together, lunches, always hanging around each others desks etc.  Gossip about them having an affair started pretty quickly.  When people said it to me I just said that I didn't think it was true and didn't pass it on to anyone else.

Eventually it got back to the pair in question and he became completely enraged about people gossiping about them.  He went around to various people demanding to know who was saying these things.  He was up in people's faces screaming and shaking with rage.

I used to be quite friendly with the guy but because of his reaction to the gossip I now give him a very wide berth. 

Obviously he handled it badly but it got me thinking, what is the best way to handle gossip about you, (especially when it's true but you don't want to tell anyone)?
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: LeveeWoman on January 23, 2013, 07:04:45 PM
Reading the career sins thread had me thinking about a situation at my office.  One of the married women in my office was very chummy with her (also married) supervisor.  Coffee together, lunches, always hanging around each others desks etc.  Gossip about them having an affair started pretty quickly.  When people said it to me I just said that I didn't think it was true and didn't pass it on to anyone else.

Eventually it got back to the pair in question and he became completely enraged about people gossiping about them.  He went around to various people demanding to know who was saying these things.  He was up in people's faces screaming and shaking with rage.

I used to be quite friendly with the guy but because of his reaction to the gossip I now give him a very wide berth. 

Obviously he handled it badly but it got me thinking, what is the best way to handle gossip about you, (especially when it's true but you don't want to tell anyone)?

I would recommend not doing whatever it is that produces the gossip, especially for these two twits.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 23, 2013, 08:38:08 PM
Reading the career sins thread had me thinking about a situation at my office.  One of the married women in my office was very chummy with her (also married) supervisor.  Coffee together, lunches, always hanging around each others desks etc.  Gossip about them having an affair started pretty quickly.  When people said it to me I just said that I didn't think it was true and didn't pass it on to anyone else.

Eventually it got back to the pair in question and he became completely enraged about people gossiping about them.  He went around to various people demanding to know who was saying these things.  He was up in people's faces screaming and shaking with rage.

I used to be quite friendly with the guy but because of his reaction to the gossip I now give him a very wide berth. 

Obviously he handled it badly but it got me thinking, what is the best way to handle gossip about you, (especially when it's true but you don't want to tell anyone)?

I would recommend not doing whatever it is that produces the gossip, especially for these two twits.

I don't think they have to stop being friends. But the way this guy handled it was rude and silly. Really, he should have just laughed it off. By overreacting like that, it just gives more credence to the idea that he was actually having an affair!
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: misha412 on January 23, 2013, 08:59:15 PM
Gossip is a part of many social structures, work-related or not. Unfortunately, gossip can ruin careers and leave bad feelings where there shouldn't be any.

The best way to prevent gossip is to not give anyone fodder for the gossip mill in the first place.

If gossip starts, there is not much to do about it except ignore it, avoid situations that will fuel it, and let it die a natural death. Trying to tell everyone that it is not true will only make the gossip mill stay active, talking about the original tale and adding the details of the response. The guy's response shows the exact opposite way of handling the situation.

The two people in the original post gave the gossip mill plenty of fodder with their close, open friendship. While I hope men and women can be friends, there are certain expectations of married individuals interacting with others who are not his or her spouse. Having an overtly chummy relationship with someone of the opposite sex is not normal for a married person.

Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: WestAussieGirl on January 23, 2013, 09:14:09 PM
Sorry, re-reading my post I realised I forgot to add that the gossip was actually true.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: gen xer on January 23, 2013, 09:22:50 PM
Reading the career sins thread had me thinking about a situation at my office.  One of the married women in my office was very chummy with her (also married) supervisor.  Coffee together, lunches, always hanging around each others desks etc.  Gossip about them having an affair started pretty quickly.  When people said it to me I just said that I didn't think it was true and didn't pass it on to anyone else.

Eventually it got back to the pair in question and he became completely enraged about people gossiping about them.  He went around to various people demanding to know who was saying these things.  He was up in people's faces screaming and shaking with rage.

I used to be quite friendly with the guy but because of his reaction to the gossip I now give him a very wide berth. 

Obviously he handled it badly but it got me thinking, what is the best way to handle gossip about you, (especially when it's true but you don't want to tell anyone)?

I would recommend not doing whatever it is that produces the gossip, especially for these two twits.

I don't think they have to stop being friends. But the way this guy handled it was rude and silly. Really, he should have just laughed it off. By overreacting like that, it just gives more credence to the idea that he was actually having an affair!

Exactly.  He just drew even more attention to it and gave them more grist for the mill.   

I hate gossip like that with a passion.   Even if you caught someone in flagrante it would still not be your place to spread it around.  To what end?  It serves nobody except to create a toxic work atmosphere and a potentially bad situation for the people involved.

All you can do is ignore it and give it no due...and don't go explaining or oversharing like Misha said.  That being said - other people's lives are their own business.  You may not like it or agree with it but stay out of it.  Whatever you might think of adultery or other bad habits....gossip is NO better.  It can ruin lives just as much.

I say this from personal experience. I was "ratted out" by busybody coworkers of my first husband who saw me out to lunch with....wait for it....my brother.  However that is not the story that got back to my husband - all he heard was that I was out with another man.  He had a jealous nature and a violent temper.  That is the kind of thing that can go very bad....all because some jerk just had to open their trap.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: RooRoo on January 23, 2013, 10:27:45 PM
This is one of our fellow E-Hellions' sig lines, and it is very apt.

If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
~ Caroline Lake Ingalls

ETA: It's Winterlight who uses it as her sig line. Thanks, Winterlight!
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: cicero on January 24, 2013, 01:49:33 AM

Eventually it got back to the pair in question and he became completely enraged about people gossiping about them.  He went around to various people demanding to know who was saying these things.  He was up in people's faces screaming and shaking with rage.

I used to be quite friendly with the guy but because of his reaction to the gossip I now give him a very wide berth. 

Obviously he handled it badly but it got me thinking, what is the best way to handle gossip about you, (especially when it's true but you don't want to tell anyone)?
the best way? *not* like this.

the way he handled it would be the best way to keep the gossip fires going for a long, long time.

and depending on the particular work situation, sometimes you *do* find yourself having a friendly work relationship with people of the opposite s3x, including lunches, coffee, joking around. it doesn't automatically mean that an affair is going on. i work in a place where there are mostly men, and in fact for a long while i was the only female in this section. so yes, i'm friendly with "the guys", get along well with them, and sometimes do lunch or coffee. but it's all out in the open and there is never (and will never be) cause for gossip.

Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: Redsoil on January 24, 2013, 07:21:55 AM
Gossip is a part of many social structures, work-related or not. Unfortunately, gossip can ruin careers and leave bad feelings where there shouldn't be any.

The best way to prevent gossip is to not give anyone fodder for the gossip mill in the first place.

If gossip starts, there is not much to do about it except ignore it, avoid situations that will fuel it, and let it die a natural death. Trying to tell everyone that it is not true will only make the gossip mill stay active, talking about the original tale and adding the details of the response. The guy's response shows the exact opposite way of handling the situation.

The two people in the original post gave the gossip mill plenty of fodder with their close, open friendship. While I hope men and women can be friends, there are certain expectations of married individuals interacting with others who are not his or her spouse. Having an overtly chummy relationship with someone of the opposite sex is not normal for a married person.



Not normal?  Hmmm.  I imagine there are differing standards and perceptions of this. 

I, for one, have lots of married male friends.  I've been known to go out with them without my husband (and they without their wives) on social evenings, bike rallies (overnight, camping) and various other events.  Can't see a problem with it myself.  I do tend to think it sad that some may jump to conclusions.  I also find it sad that some may see a perfectly good friendship, and close ties with opposite sex friends as "taboo".
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: Winterlight on January 24, 2013, 09:02:03 AM
I'd say there's a difference between social and professional. It sounds like they'd moved well beyond acceptable professional limits.

Thanks, RooRoo! *g*
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: oceanus on January 24, 2013, 09:44:43 AM
Quote
I also find it sad that some may see a perfectly good friendship, and close ties with opposite sex friends as "taboo".

I agree, as do a lot of my married (male and female) friends.

It's downright pathetic that some people feel:  "Hmm.  Married person being friendly with single person = affair."  I guess they 'forget' that a lot of married people have affairs with other married people.  ::)

What "not normal" is frequently speculating about the sexual behavior of others.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: MissManager on January 25, 2013, 01:31:48 PM
As a boss I'd probably say, "You obviously need more work to do if you're paying that much attention to my comings and goings," in that half joking half serious tone... you know the one that says don't test me.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: Veronica on January 25, 2013, 02:01:02 PM
The best way to prevent gossip is to not give anyone fodder for the gossip mill in the first place.


So basically, blame the victim?
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 25, 2013, 02:25:01 PM
Obviously he handled it badly but it got me thinking, what is the best way to handle gossip about you, (especially when it's true but you don't want to tell anyone)?

I think laughing or shrugging it off, minimizing the discussion about it that you participate in, and perhaps asking people you trust to do the same (minimize if anyone mentions it to them) are good ways. Any kind of "big" reaction--anger, shock, defensiveness, bitterness, trying to figure out the source, etc.--is just going to give the gossip weight. Even making a production about "setting the record straight" could draw more attention to the gossip. Unless you're officially asked about it by a supervisor-type, I think just letting it sputter away and die is the best option.

Kind of depends on the type of gossip, too. For example, if you're pregnant, and everyone's going to know it for sure in a month but you aren't ready for people to know yet, you probably don't want to go around flat-out denying it. Maybe a raised eyebrow along with, "Wow, the kind of things people think is appropriate to ask about these days..." while shaking your head.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: Moray on January 25, 2013, 02:40:54 PM
The best way to prevent gossip is to not give anyone fodder for the gossip mill in the first place.


So basically, blame the victim?

I can't chat or be friendly with my male coworkers? I'm not talking flirting, or being inappropriate, just chatting and being friendly.

I ask, misha412, because I have worked in offices where the rumor mill was so idiotic that merely saying "Good morning" or "Hey, I really appreciate the work did on the Jones acct" or "How's your dog?" to a male coworker was totally proof we were getting it on. Going for coffee together? Forget it. You're just flaunting your illicit romance. How does one avoid the impression of impropriety in a situation like that? It was very odd, like the unwritten expectation was that you would *only* interact with people of your own gender; which is idiotic, and speaks to poor business sense.

The thing with rumor mills is that sometimes they're accurate (like in the OP), but more often than not they're the product of petty people with too much time on their hands and active imaginations.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: Sirius on January 25, 2013, 03:45:47 PM
The best way to prevent gossip is to not give anyone fodder for the gossip mill in the first place.


So basically, blame the victim?

This isn't blaming the victim.  The victims in this case gave the mill plenty of fodder. 
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: artk2002 on January 25, 2013, 03:50:47 PM
The best way to prevent gossip is to not give anyone fodder for the gossip mill in the first place.


So basically, blame the victim?

This isn't blaming the victim.  The victims in this case gave the mill plenty of fodder.

Gossip is wrong, no matter what the fodder. As others have pointed out, simply saying "hello" to someone of the opposite gender can trigger talk in some environments. Unless the couple were smooching in the closet or using the conference table for the wrong purpose, they don't carry the blame here. None of the behaviors in the OP should be considered "fodder" for gossip.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: Veronica on January 25, 2013, 04:57:17 PM
The best way to prevent gossip is to not give anyone fodder for the gossip mill in the first place.


So basically, blame the victim?

This isn't blaming the victim.  The victims in this case gave the mill plenty of fodder.

Really, this is "plenty of fodder"? 

"Coffee together, lunches, always hanging around each others desks etc."

I need to tell my co-worker we need to stop having lunch together.  In fact we often have closed door meetings with just the two of us, I'll let him know we need some sort of chaperone.   I guess we should also tell our spouses that the four of us can't hang out on weekends either anymore. 

Oh no, wait, we're professional adults who work well together and we just happen to be of the opposite sex.  Also, this isn't the 1800s.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: MayHug on January 25, 2013, 05:20:53 PM
I once was the victim of malicious gossip at work. I work with mostly women and our boss is a man.

Because I was taught to respect my boss and do a good job(and therefore received advancements) and dared to have meetings with him it was decided I must be sleeping with him. One person even wrote about it on her Facebook getting fired employees to chime in.

When that didn't go well, another worker decided to spread the rumor that my husband and I enjoyed threesomes. The main problem with being it was a small town and my husband was a prominent pastor.

Fortunately I am still at the same job and they are not.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: dharmaexpress on January 25, 2013, 06:22:05 PM
Quote
  Sorry, re-reading my post I realised I forgot to add that the gossip was actually true.         

I rather guessed that from his somewhat telling reaction.

And I think what you do about gossip is ignore it.  Though, I work in a field job with no coworkers on a daily basis, so maybe that's easy for me to say.  I guess I believe what other people think of me is their business (particularly work folks and acquaintances).
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: Dr. F. on January 25, 2013, 07:15:11 PM
It's odd - I was also a victim of this kind of gossip also, for no actual reason. I did no more than was described in the OP, and what the gossips didn't know is that I was equally friends with the wife of the couple, but she worked elsewhere, so the coworkers only saw me interact with one half of the couple. The coworker and I would chat about this-and-that that we'd done outside of work time, without feeling the need to say that the wife was also there (unless it came up organically, I mean, it wasn't hidden - I never even thought about it, really, not thinking my life was of interest to everyone else.)

End result - gossip. I laughed it off, he laughed it off. It wasn't until his wife laughed it off at a company Christmas party she attended that the gossips were (at least mostly) silenced. There are still probably people that would say that we had an affair, even though that's not even remotely true. (Seriously - going to lunch in a busy restaurant together?)

I am still friends with the coworker and his wife, even though neither of us work there anymore. I am not in contact with the gossips anymore.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: gramma dishes on January 25, 2013, 07:38:16 PM

...   I would recommend not doing whatever it is that produces the gossip, especially for these two twits.

Some of the worst, most disgusting, gossip I've ever heard was about two people who absolutely, positively did NOTHIING that could have suggested that there was any truth to it.  It was simply totally made up by people who were mad because someone with "less professional experience" at their job got a raise in both position and pay and they were trying to make it seem like 'there must be a reason (smirk, smirk) that that happened". 

We've all heard the expression "Where there's smoke, there's fire."  Well, sometimes there is no smoke.  The red, fiery hot passion of jealously or envy only has to rear its ugly head and the blaze begins.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: oceanus on January 25, 2013, 07:53:14 PM

...   I would recommend not doing whatever it is that produces the gossip, especially for these two twits.

Some of the worst, most disgusting, gossip I've ever heard was about two people who absolutely, positively did NOTHIING that could have suggested that there was any truth to it.  It was simply totally made up by people who were mad because someone with "less professional experience" at their job got a raise in both position and pay and they were trying to make it seem like 'there must be a reason (smirk, smirk) that that happened". 

We've all heard the expression "Where there's smoke, there's fire."  Well, sometimes there is no smoke.  The red, fiery hot passion of jealously or envy only has to rear its ugly head and the blaze begins.

So true, gramma dishes.
Sometimes it's not even a promotion/raise that triggers the malicious gossip.  Sometimes it's just sheer meanness (although jealousy often plays a part).  I believe some people are bad seeds, and their mouths can do a lot of damage.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on January 26, 2013, 12:10:35 AM
The dynamic at my workplace is a little weird.

I work in a small machining and fabrication shop.  (I'm described as having "A white-collar mind and blue-collar hands".  I love the shop environment, it suits me very well.)  Our lead hand, Jamie, is not well-liked by most of the other shop floor workers; this is kind of typical of this industry.  Everyone hates the lead hand because he's in charge and has to deliver sometimes unpleasant orders to the other workers.  I always have had the attitude "You don't have to like it, you just have to do it."  While Jamie and I don't see eye-to-eye on some things, we get along well enough.  I respect his knowledge, which he's been very generous with, and I have learned a lot from him.  We aren't "friends" per se but we do have a good working relationship, and make a good team.

It certainly doesn't hurt me to be nice to Jamie but as the other shop workers started to see how Jamie and I work well together, and that he treated me far less abruptly than he did the other shop floor people, rumours abounded that we must have more than a "work" relationship, if you know what I mean.  The fact that it's common knowledge also that I'm in a relationship with Anthony (who used to work there) only added fuel to the fire, because Jamie and Anthony hate each other with a fiery passion.

The rumours got out of hand to the point where Jamie and I were both called up on the carpet by our boss, who fortunately believed us when we both firmly denied we were anything more than co-workers.  The boss had never said anything about the relationship between Anthony and I, because while we didn't actively hide anything or lie about it, we acted professionally at work and it was never an issue, but our boss felt that all the gossip flying around about Jamie and me was getting out of hand and causing problems.  He couldn't have inappropriate relationships causing disruptions in the shop, of course.

Whenever either of the two shop hands who were mostly responsible for the gossip would suggest there was anything going on between Jamie and me, I would just shrug and say, "That's news to me," or "Wow, you seem to know more about my love life than I do!"  I refused to let them get a rise out of me, and I refuse to participate in gossip of any kind because of things like this.  Even though it may start out harmlessly enough, in the long run it can be very damaging to someone's career.



Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: Octavia on January 26, 2013, 11:41:50 AM
The way I have handled office gossip about me depends on what level of authority or influence the gossipers had over me. In the case where the gossips were a level above me and were going to have an adverse impact on my career, I left the group as soon as I found another job.

More recently there were two gossips in my group who were two-three levels below me. I caught them multiple times saying vicious things, and one made the mistake of accidentally sending a nasty e-mail about me to me instead of to her fellow gossip. I forwarded that one to their boss, and he had stern words with them. There was a non-apologetic apology, after which things settled down to a chilly silence. Not long afterward I received a promotion and was put in charge of a major project. The gossips approached me to join my team. I told them that they would not be a good fit as I wanted trustworthy team players. And good luck with their careers. Sometimes things work out for the best.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 27, 2013, 02:58:55 PM
I was thinking about my own workplace regarding this thread. I've worked in the same small office for a number of years; the industry naturally has high turnover so only about three of us (including the boss) have been there for a "long" time. Generally the people we have now are very nice.

However, I do tend to keep discussion of my personal life to a minimum. My boss and the other long-timer (Grace) are the sort who, if given an inch of personal information, will take a mile of assuming they can give me advice about my life and discuss it with others. And they tend to be rather alarmist and worry about ridiculous things.

For example, one day I had a doctor's appointment in the middle of the work day. Of course I had to let my boss know I'd be gone, and I also let Grace know because my absence meant she'd have to do something extra at work. All I said was, "I'll be away for a doctor's appointment between noon and two." When I got back in the afternoon, a totally different co-worker, Anna, came rushing up to me and asked in a concerned tone if I was okay. Apparently Grace had told her about my doctor's appointment in the most ominous way possible, with speculation about what it was for, to the point where Anna thought something was seriously wrong with me.  ::) Um, it was my routine yearly physical, if you must know, that I scheduled two months ago.

So the gossip here isn't catty and malicious, but it's definitely uncalled-for and unprofessional, not to mention annoying. And hence why I try to give them very, very little fodder for it.
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: nonesuch4 on January 29, 2013, 08:02:26 AM
The couple in the original post forgot the lesson learned at many a mother's knee;  He who excuses himself, accuses himself.

Plausible deniability is your friend. 

I had a co-irked who started a casual conversation with me, but was fishing for information.  "George flirts a lot, but somehow gives the impression that he's not available. I don't know whether he's seeing someone, or he's g@y."  I said if he's making it clear he's not available, the reason didn't really matter, did it?
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: petal on January 30, 2013, 01:52:06 AM
I was the victim of some nasty gossip a fair few years ago  but not in an office setting  and i can tell you that now i would have no hesitation going up to the gossip mongerer and saying in a loud voice  "how dare you"  and confronting them

gossip is disgusting and needs to be stopped dead
Title: Re: S/O Career Sins - Gossip
Post by: Margo on January 30, 2013, 08:43:48 AM
I think a lot depends on the situation, and on the personal and professional links between the people concerned.

A very bland, non-reaction can be quite effective on shutting down gossip at at early stage - the kind of "what an odd suggestion" or "I don't know, but I don't see that it is relevant either way" whether it is about you or about someone else. Getting no reaction makes it much less interesting to gossip, and the 'I don't see it is relevant' can (in situations like the one nonesuch4 described) be fairly effective as there is an implied rebuke there, but you don't have to specifically accuse the gossip of gossiping ("I'm sorry, why are you telling me this? What does it have to do with [work related issue]" also works pretty well!)

I think it the gossip is something potentially career damaging then I think it is appropriate to raise it more formally.

If the gossip is about *you* then I think it depends whether it is relevant to your work or not. If not, then if anyone raises it I think you're fine to simply redirect the conversation to work related issues. Depending on circumstances, saying something which explicitly identifies it as gossip can be helpful - no-one ever likes to admit that they are gossiping. An unconcerned-sounding  "Oh, I never listen to gossip"  is a great get-out - you don't have to respond at all to the allegation or gossip itself, so you don't have to deny, confirm or explain whatever it is you (or your coworker) is alleged to have done, and since the word 'gossip'  has negative associations, so it turns it around to the gossipers feeling a little embarrassed that they got caught gossiping, and the attention moves away from whatevr it is they were gossiping *about*