“SO, I heard you are seeing two girls at the office,” said an editor last week, much to my amusement.
I wasn’t sure if I should be angry that some people have been talking behind my back, worried that this might ruin my ‘good boy’ image that I am trying to build, or feel good as people think I am actually capable of dating two women at a time.
But one thing was certain, there are some interesting rumours circulating about me.
Office gossip is something that most of us have experienced. After all, we do need something to talk about over breakfast, lunch, tea and, of course, after hours at the regular company watering hole.
Company performance and KPIs just don’t cut it, do they? In a newsroom, things are slightly different.
You are surrounded by highly skilled resource-gatherers and award-winning journalists who specialise in uncovering the hidden truth and are able to decipher your every statement, movement, actions and behaviour without even trying.
They are able to put two and two together before you can say Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (the longest word in the English dictionary), and even have time for a curry puff.
Some regard office gossip as workplace violence that could end careers, marriages and have the ability to destroy lives.
Although it may seem too extreme, failure to deal with the gossip girls (and boys) of the office could lead to all of the above.
It always starts out innocently over a random conversation when someone in the pantry or the regular watering hole says, “Did you hear what happened to Ah Chong ?” Clueless, you reply, “What about Ah Chong? Don’t you know about his wife?”
And that’s how it starts. Slow, simple and innocently, and before you know it, someone is resigning or, even worse, jumping out of the 17th floor.
So, how do you deal with office gossips? Experts say change starts with us.
If you don’t want to be the headlines at the 5pm gossip bulletin, don’t do it yourself ever. When you are talking about someone, it is not their own good. You’re gossiping. If you really want to help someone, talk to the person directly.
Secondly, don’t fuel gossips. Walk away or quickly change the subject. If you do it regularly, then you’d turn off the office gossip girl (or boy) and the buck stops at you.
However, office gossip may not be a bad thing after all, some researches found.
A study conducted by a group of researchers from Amsterdam University (you know, that city which is famous for a particular plant that I can’t mention here) recently said gossip is used to warn co-workers about colleagues that are not pulling their weight. And even the risk of gossip can help to pressure underperformers to contribute.
Well, there you go. Two schools of thought, whichever you may prefer. But I personally feel that office gossip does not do any good for anyone.
So, how do I deal with all this chitter-chatter? With humour of course! My reply to the editor that asked if I am dating two girls at the office: “Yes I am and all three of us live together”.