Dealing with Gossip

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Bev,

One of the things I like about reading your column is that it normalizes things that go on in my workplace, which I’ve always considered to be highly dysfunctional. I don’t know if that is good or bad – maybe I am just getting desensitized to how ridiculous things are around here.

I’ve never written before, but I have a question about the importance of gossip. Some of the people I work with learn things they probably should not know, and because they weren’t told them directly, they don’t consider them to be secrets. However, many of the things that get passed around could be misconstrued and hurtful to others.

I have always been a listener. I like to know what’s happening and we don’t get good information from our senior people. But lately I am feeling guilty that my listening is contributing to the problem. I tried telling one of my colleagues I didn’t care about what they were saying. But then they stopped sharing things with me.

We are in a situation where layoffs have been going on for a while and we just had another round this past week. Like a lot of financial firms, ours is focused on cost cutting. Some of us learned in advance about the past layoffs because of the gossip situation. I think there can be value. I just don’t know whether I should separate myself entirely. It is a really toxic environment.