Stop Being So Nosey!

Gladys Kravitz. To many this name brings up memories of the busy-body neighbor who always seemed to show up and see Samantha Stephens in a compromising situation. For those of you who don’t know who Gladys Kravitz is, Google her name, I am sure you will quickly become aware of someone who reminds you of her. We refer to our little dog, Belle, as our neighborhood Gladys Kravitz. She spends time going up to each neighbor during her numerous walks and gives us a chance to strike up conversations and learn about them. She seems to know everyone’s business.

In the workplace, we encounter people who have similar qualities to Gladys Kravitz – people who are nosey; people who spend more time worrying about what other people are doing and not concentrating on optimally performing their jobs. These employees might be called gossipers or even harassers. This behavior can sometimes be so pervasive that it seriously impacts the workplace. These are the employees who fuel the office grapevine and help spread rumors and other potentially damaging and hurtful communications.

So, how do we handle this type of employee? Hopefully your company has a policy that spells out appropriate personal conduct in the workplace. If not, this is an important policy to have in place. Staff that engages in gossip that negatively affects the workplace should be developed to stop the behavior and the best way to address it is through corrective action. Ideally, a referral to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) should be part of this action since someone who exhibits gossip-type behavior might need some ideas to help them break the habit. The conversation could prove to be challenging for management however if the behavior is allowed to continue it could become worse.

The office grapevine can be harmless fun until it starts to cause hurt feelings. Sometimes this gossip can lead to rifts in the workplace and if the gossiper is someone who has access to corporate intelligence this could lead to a serious negative impact. If your business handles sensitive medical or legal records and your employees are discussing patient’s or client’s information without a business need, it could have severe implications including fines, legal action and even jail time in some situations.

In essence, make sure you have a policy in place that addresses gossip. And enforce it. Remember, loose lips sink ships. Or worse.

Don’t forget to CELEBRATE!


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