Why Gossip in the Workplace Undermines Trust and Careers

Why Gossip in the Workplace Undermines Trust and Careers
By Debra J. Slover

Everyone has been in a situation where gossip was happening and either they joined in, or silently stood by and did nothing to either stop it or move the conversation in a different and more positive direction. Of course, it’s tempting to engage in “water cooler” chit chat and gossip about your supervisor, your employer, and your fellow employees, but it’s a harmful commonplace practice.


Gossip is generally not very accurate and expresses more about the person doing the gossiping than the target of the gossip. If you are actively participating in gossip, ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you trying to avoid a reality about yourself? Do you have feelings of inadequacy that are lessened by pointing out the faults of others?

When you participate in gossip, by either your silence or your active participation, you are undermining the trust of your coworkers, friends, and relatives. Gossip is hurtful and should not be tolerated. It breeds suspicion and mistrust. Believe it or not, even if they are actively participating in the gossip, they will look at you differently (and you are looking at them differently) as someone to be wary of and not trustworthy.

If you want to demonstrate you are trustworthy, at a minimum, you should request gossip stop when you are present and, if it doesn’t stop, leave. That takes courage. By saying something, you are defending the defenseless as well as reclaiming your trust and dignity.

Being willing to step forward and set a standard will help others who are present to speak up and do the same. People tend to think differently when in groups, and it often only takes one strong person to speak up to improve the workplace environment.

The most important thing you gain by pruning gossip is your integrity. If you are living a life where you are gossiping you are jeopardizing your reputation, trust, and career. People that take action and prune gossip can be trusted to be consistent in their actions no matter who is present. What type of coworker or supervisor do you want at your back?

Award winning author, Debra J. Slover’s leadership expertise stems from 18 years directing a state youth services program, experience organizing 20 state and national conferences, and running her own consulting firm for over six years. Her website is http://www.leadershipgardenlegacy.com