About a year ago, at my previous job, I became the target of some nasty rumors at work. When my supervisor pulled me into her office to tell me that the other two administration ladies had been saying some pretty horrible (and untrue) things about me in their staff meetings, I was floored. Why me? Where did they even get this stuff from? I have done exactly what I was told for the past 3 years. I didn’t make waves. I worked myself sick for them and this is how they repay me? I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.
Maybe something similar is happening to you. Gossip is nasty business. Here’s my step-by-step plan on how to handle workplace gossip with class.
When I found out about the insensitive things that were being said about me, I wanted to walk right up to that woman and curse her out bad! I was fuming mad and incredibly hurt. I also wanted to keep my job. So in the spirit of keeping it classy, I channeled my inner Audrey Hepburn and took a few days to cool off.
Some of us may have an easier time doing this than others, but try your hardest not to act in the moment. We tend to say a lot of irrational things when we are fired up and this isn’t the time to lose your cool (or you may end up also losing your job!). Take a few days to cool down, let the initial shock wear off. Besides, if you confront the person while you’re steaming, they are going to relish in the scene you are creating, and guess what? They won! More fuel for their fire. You definitely don’t want that.
This is Not About You
I repeat, this is NOT about you! Hurt people, hurt people. Think about the person who has committed the act, how is their life going at the moment? Are they going through a difficult time? Are they jealous of your life/success/boyfriend/looks etc? I knew in my case that this woman was not happy with her life, she was upset with how people viewed her at work and was lashing out. Now, this in no way gets them off the hook for how they have been treating you, but take comfort in the fact that these rumors have nada to do with you and everything to do with them.
Be the Bigger Person
If you’re anything like me, the gossip really hurt you to your core, but I refused to let her win. I was not going to throw away my integrity because of her. So in the spirit of keeping it classy, I chose to be the bigger person. If I saw her in the hallway I smiled, if I had to speak to her, I did it in a kind, appropriate manner. I was not going to stoop to her level by engaging in meaningless gossip about her. Kill them with kindness. Now, you don’t have to go out of your way to be kind to them. And don’t be fake, people can see right through that, but don’t let them bring down your positive energy.
Surround Yourself With Protective Energy
The day after this incident happened I felt so raw. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to go back to work and face them. Maybe I could just call in sick. No way! I wasn’t going to let them win! This visualization exercise really helped me get through the next few weeks:
Imagine that you are surrounded by a protective white light. In incases you like a bubble. It is protecting you from any unkind energy or words from others. Imagine that the offender is saying something nasty to you and instead of reaching you, it bounces off your protective shield. You are unharmed by the words of others.
This exercise worked like a charm. I was able to walk into work with my head held high and was unaffected by the whispers, stares and negative vibes.
A few days have past. If you feel like you are calm enough to have a rational conversation with the person, go for it. But if you want this exchange to be effective, then you need to remember not to attack them. I would word it as a question. Hey, there seems to be some tension between us, is there anything wrong? Have I offended you in some way? I’ve heard some gossip about me in the office, I was just wondering if we could talk about it?
I wouldn’t go too much into your feelings. You can let them know that the gossip was hurtful, but don’t overdo it. Remember, hurting you may have been their goal, if not it was an added bonus, you don’t want to let them see the satisfaction of their affect on you. Remember, be kind. Go back to being the bigger person.
If the gossip continues or gets worse, it may be necessary to seek out your boss or Human Resources and let them know what is going on. They may be able to help you further.
Don’t Ride the Gossip Train
You know how much it hurts to have someone gossip about you, so don’t do it. Don’t be a part of the gossip squad at work. If something is said about someone that is untrue, speak up. What goes around comes around and you don’t want to be the next victim!