Bad Boss of the Week: Gossip in the Office

When you being your start up, you often do so with friends. These are people you have known for years, and so your relationship can begin to seem casual. And, because, in casual friendships, gossip happens, it can invade the workplace. Here’s a letter from someone on the receiving end of the gossip:

About 2-3 times a week, my boss will pull me into his office for very intense conversations about other coworkers. Sometimes my boss will speak horribly about the coworker, and then try to rope me in (“What do you think, Trollina? Do you think X is incompetent/hysterical?” ). Sometimes he’ll rehash past dramas/gossip, and talk about how glad he is are that Y is gone. I have no choice but to remain neutral in the moment, shrugging or saying “I don’t know” when he tries to corral me into talking bad about someone.


To read the answer on how the boss should change, click here: Bad Boss of the Week: Gossip in the Office

Let me know if this kind of response is better!

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5 thoughts on “Bad Boss of the Week: Gossip in the Office

  1. I’m in the same position as the letter-writer. Do you have any advice for how to manage and not get sucked into these kinds of conversations?

    1. Yes. If you’re the direct recipient of these kind of info dumps, stop participating. For instance, when rumors were flying about two co-workers having an affair, when eve someone tried to talk to me about it, I replied, “I have worked with both William and Angela and I respect both of them.”

      It’s harder, of course, when it’s not just one subject, but every subject. But, refuse to participate. Or reply to every negative with a positive. Walk out if you have to. But, I really like the phrase, “I like Jane, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say anything about her.”

  2. One tactic is to minimally respond. You have to be careful when the boss is the gossiper, because you can’t be outright dismissive. But, the less reaction you give the less inclined the gossiper is to share these stories.

    Another tactic is to treat the gossip as if the gossiper is genuinely concern. For example, if they talk about someone’s minor mistake and then imply the person will be fired, act like this is a legitimate issue that they care about: “Oh my goodness, that’s terrible! Have you asked X what the next step is?” This tactic is a little over the top, and you have to have a good poker face.

    I’ve also combated negative news with positive or my own genuine concern. This disarms the gossiper and also shows that you do not want to get dragged into the negativity.

    1. Showing genuine concern is always good. “What can we do to help?” “Oh, goodness! I didn’t know that. Is she okay? I’ll go help her right now!”

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