Are You the Target of Gossip in the Workplace (or Maybe the Gossip Yourself?}
Respectful Conduct in the Workplace……that’s all we ask for. Is that too much?
I was talking with a friend of mine this week about a situation that she’s dealing with at her workplace.
She has a colleague who has turned into a supreme gossiper. Perhaps she always was, but until a recent situation, no one ever realized it.
There will always be rumours and gossip in organizations.
Rumours and gossip can be very harmful and destructive. Some people, like this particular colleague at my friend’s office, take particular pleasure in being ‘in the know’ and then sharing that knowledge with anyone and everyone they can. They totally disregard the consequences.
Do you know someone like this? I’m sure you do. Most workplaces have them. The destructive nature of their behaviour is so powerful that it is one of the reasons that gossiping is specifically listed within most Respectful Conduct in the Workplace policies, as being an example of “unacceptable behaviour.”
Why Give Them The Satisfaction?
When we are dealing with the proverbial office-gossiper, remember that they get satisfaction from being the first with the news. They also get satisfaction from the reaction of the people they then share this news with. That said, one good way to remove that reward is to clearly tell them that you are not interested in gossip.
How to deal with A Gossip
Try saying this:
“Phil, I don’t think that what you’re saying is very kind at all. I’m not even sure it’s true. I’m really not interested in spending any time on this kind of thing.”
On the other hand, if you, like my friend, are the focus of the gossip, then you’ll need a different approach altogether. The important thing is to remain calm, and pay attention to your body language.
Try saying this:
“Phil, I’d appreciate you clearing up some confusion. I’ve heard that you said this about me. Is that true? Why would you say something like that? I really don’t appreciate that kind of thing. I’d like you to know that I want it to stop.”
Most Respectful Conduct in the Workplace policies should suggest that you talk to the person face-to-face about your experience and the impact their behaviour is having on you.
If that doesn’t work, or it isn’t something you feel that you are able to manage successfully, for one reason or another, then you should involve your supervisor, either to help facilitate a meeting with that person, or for the supervisor to talk to them on your behalf.
The idea is to get the behaviour to stop, and for the person to realize the impact they’re having on you. Only then can we get on with our work without that uncomfortable feeling within the workplace. Is that too much to ask for?
If that does not work, then the next stage of the policy is there for a reason.
May 3, 2013 is the Symposium for Police Victim Services of British Columbia in Kelowna BC
Workplace Safety expert Phil Eastwood will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Police Victim Services of British Columbia Symposium in Kelowna on May 3rd 2013.
Phil’s message to the group is the debut of a new presentation through Fiore Group Training entitled: How to be a S.T.A.R
How to be a S.T.A.R keynote presentation is demonstrates with vivid stories and practical application how an individual can develop and sustain personal leadership and individual motivation. Someone They’ll Always Remember is about being that person who is intensely remarkable and powerfully sincere: someone that people remember….forever.
How to Be a S.T.A.R will hook the audience’s hearts and minds, inspiring them to action.
Seattle’s Workplace Violence Incident Reminds Us To Pay Attention
According to most Washington State media reports, at just before 2pm on Friday, March 7th, 2013,65 year old Bill Keller was shot in the chest by his co-worker, 46 year old Carolyn Piksa. The shooting happened at their workplace, a North Seattle Parks and Recreation maintenance building.
The victim continues to recover in hospital, and the suspect was arrested at her home without incident.
Whatever the motives or background story to this terrible incident, it serves as a reminder to us all that the workplace can be full of dangers and threats in the guise of our colleagues and co-workers.
The trouble is, we’re so used to seeing the people in our workplaces, that we don’t pay attention to the little details someone may show when things are not well. We’re busy doing our jobs and therefore, not focused on trying to identify the change in behavior that the person working alongside us is exhibiting. In fact, if we do notice something, we’re more likely to dismiss it as being the result of that person having an off day and with statements such as, “they have a lot of stuff going on in their lives right now.” (Which in many cases may be true but….)
It tends to be only after the fact….following a tragedy when someone has been seriously hurt or even killed, that the little warning signs begin to make sense, and all of a sudden people are making comments such as “I had a feeling something like this would happen.”
The Number One Rule
We all need to pay more attention to what is going on in the neighboring cubicle to ours remembering the Number 1 rule:
Everyone is responsible for their own behavior.
The warning signs are there for everyone to see, like the forest and the trees.
People only see what they’re looking for.
Warning signs that many experts agree that colleagues and supervisors should be vigilant for, include the following:
Excessive tardiness or absences for work
An abnormal need for supervision
A lack of work performance
An unexplained change in work habits
An inability to concentrate
Signs of stress (which we have covered in some recent blogs)
A unexplained change in attitude
A fascination with weapons
Signs of drugs or alcohol use
Not taking responsibility for their actions (remember the Number 1 Rule)
No one has even regretted paying too much attention to what is going on around them at work. Its how our species has survived on this planet for so long: because we’re supposed to pay attention to what is going on around us.
Pedestrians get killed every day of the year because someone (the pedestrian or the driver) didn’t pay enough attention at a time when they should have been.
It is time to wake up and pay attention.
Retail, Teachers, Paramedics, Police and Social Workers and Corrections Officers among the most dangerous jobs for workplace stress.
What profession are you in?
Are you a police officer? An educator? A paramedic? A corrections Officer? Are you involved in customer service? Perhaps social services? Perhaps you know someone who works in one of these professions.
There have been numerous studies that have tried to dissect different occupations in order to classify which are the most stressful overall for people employed within them.
The three factors usually examined are, job satisfaction, physical health, and a person’s psychological well-being derived from being employed in certain professions. Each of these factors are affected by, and often linked to, the amount of stress experienced within each profession.
In turn, the level of stress experienced is connected to several aspects of work, which each person may experience differently.
Warning signs of significant workplace stress?
- Job specific factors, such as poor physical working conditions, work overload, or time pressures
- A person’s role within their organization, including role ambiguity and role conflict
- A person’s career development opportunities, lack thereof, or even basic job security
- A person’s relationships at work, including poor relationships with supervisors or colleagues: This can start out as merely difference of opinions, but quickly progress to disrespectful conduct and perhaps even bullying within the workplace, and
- The organizational structure and the general climate within the workplace, as well as issues surrounding, having little involvement or inclusion in decision making
Did you recognize your situation in any of the above descriptions?
Who Is In Control of Your Life?
If so, have you thought about whether you have had any control over them?
When I look back on my career in policing in the United Kingdom, and here in Canada, I recognize that I experienced many of those situations at different times in my thirty-two years in law enforcement. Sometimes, several were present simultaneously. Knowing now what I know about the destructive power of workplace stress, when multiple factors are present within a work environment, the warning signs are there. Whether we are in a position, or are able to see them though, is another question altogether.
Those warning signs are correlations which exist between those three factors referenced earlier: job satisfaction, physical health, and psychological well-being.
The research tells us that as physical health deteriorates, so too does psychological well being. Likewise, as physical health and psychological well-being deteriorate, job satisfaction goes down also.
But are these real or imagined?
Very early in my career at Notting Hill Police Station in West London, I wanted to resign (almost before unpacking my bags) as a result of the amount of violence that was apparently experienced by the regular policeman on the beat. My inspector, John Burbeck, saved the day and tore up my resignation letter. He told me to come back in six months, and if I still felt the same way, he would sign it. I never went back. Equally importantly, I never experienced the violence everyone talked about, and in the end, it was more myth than fact. Sometimes those aforementioned workplace factors are in our own heads, and I’m living proof!
By the way, just in case you are interested, all of the professions which I mentioned at the start of this article, suffer significant amounts of organizational and workplace stress. That’s a fact!
How we choose to deal with such stress makes all the difference.