Gossip is just one of those words that have aeons of negativity wrapped around it. It is seen as that malicious thing (for lack of a better word) that spreads nasty rumours and makes hurtful observations about people. But the truth is that we all gossip. The tendency to gossip is as old as life itself. Some have accused women of being the carriers of gossip, but even the staunchest patriarch cannot really deny that men enjoy gossip as much as women. And can there be a workplace where gossip doesn’t exist? That’s like wondering if there can be seas without salt in their waters!
Office gossip is as much a part of work life as the tables, chairs, and computers that we work on. Bosses and managers these days actually encourage the odd water cooler gossip sessions in their teams. “It enhances camaraderie and encourages team mates to bond with each other and build relationships,” said one manager on condition of anonymity. He believes that it could help build closer and consequently better work relationships.
Social scientists are saying that gossiping is a social skill. No longer is the classification of employees done in terms of “Gossips” and “Does Not Gossip”. The new categories are “Good at Gossiping” and “Not So Good at Gossiping”. As long as man remains a social animal, he will find the need to gossip, say psychologists. It is believed that since the time that man learned to move around in communities and live in families, gossip has been a major part of life. It has played key roles in strengthening friendships and building life long bonds.
Disagreeing with the positives of gossiping, Psychologist Dr Rachna Singh, Artemis says, “Yes, office gossip does help but only when you are up for building negative relationship. I don’t find anything healthy in gossiping. If you seriously want to be seen as a star in your office, be that for all rightful reasons!” she exclaimed.
“When office gossip finds its way to me, I feel part of the team, you know, within the loop...” says Shailaja Subramanian about her experience with office gossip. “If I found out they hadn’t told me something, I would feel left out – ostracised!” she exclaims. Not that all gossip is good. Having been at the receiving end of a malicious story involving her and her then boss, Subramanian is careful to add that not all gossip is necessarily “good”, but sees how it cannot be avoided. “if you talk about others, they will talk about you too,” she agrees good-naturedly, “it’s all in the game!”
Managers, too, are using gossip as a tool to keep employees in check. If the guys in the team know that the boss is likely to set off a whisper campaign every time they come late, it could go a long way in keeping them in line, feels the aforementioned manager. But the thing can only get out of hand when used irresponsibly to be malicious to people. Office gossip does have the potential to hurt and play havoc with a person’s self esteem, but when indulged in within limits, it can be great fun.
But what about being “ethical” in office? “It hampers your image in front of others quite badly. People will stop trusting you and gossiping has no place in the ethicality bracket,” adds Dr. Singh. There are better ways to climb the ladder, look for them, she strictly advises.
It lets you in on all the happenings within the workplace better than any newsletter, and has the added advantage of cementing relationships. So, go ahead, take that coffee break and catch up on all the news!
Image Source: Sakhi
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