Selling the drama

Workplace gossip is toxic for employee morale (and it is not great for business either). Practice owner Jenn Galvin dishes on why the whole team deserves better than a culture of bad-mouthing and rumor-spreading.

By Jenn Galvin

What’s juicier than a ripe watermelon on a hot summer day? Workplace gossip! But before you start dishing out the latest dirt, let’s take a moment to ponder how all that chitchat can make our office feel like high school all over again. It’s time to kick gossip to the curb and create a workplace where good vibes flow freely.  

Can we even stop the gossip? 

First, why should you even care about gossip in your hospital? Putting aside how important it is for your hospital’s culture and team, it’s also about your own reputation. When you jump on that gossip train, spreading rumors and bad-mouthing others, you paint a not-so-pretty picture of yourself.  

It’s also a bad look to be associated with people doing these things. It will damage the trust you’ve built with co-workers and can stop you from advancing in your career if you’re labeled as someone that creates drama and negativity on teams.  

Spreading rumors might seem thrilling, but it plants negativity in your brain that can take over your mood and the vibe you create around yourself. 

7 Rules for a gossip-free practice 

Rule #1—Lead by example 

When people see others refraining from gossiping, they are more likely to follow suit. I have two phrases in my toolbelt for this one. If you want no part of the idle gossip and just want to move on with your day, I recommend, “I have no opinion about that.”  

It stops the conversation, it’s a refusal to get involved, and it’s over.  

If it sounds like a genuine problem is the root cause of the gossip, and you feel like you can genuinely help the person, I recommend asking, “Can I help you come up with what to say to them?”  

This lets the person know you aren’t there to just listen to negative talk, but you are willing to help them organize their thoughts and work through what they might say directly to the person. This redirects the conversation in the most productive direction.  

Rule #2—Enforce clear expectations in a code of conduct 

Incorporate clear guidelines and policies about gossip in the workplace’s code of conduct. Ensure that employees are aware of the consequences of engaging in this kind of behavior. Setting expectations creates a sense of responsibility and accountability among your team members.  

This also means getting rid of toxic team members! If an employee has been repeatedly spoken to about their behavior and refuses to change, it’s time to vote them off the island.  

Rule #3—Foster a positive environment 

A workplace that promotes reduces the likelihood of gossip taking root. Celebrate the heck out of achievements and acknowledge your team’s hard work openly. Encourage employees to appreciate each other’s contributions and build a sense of camaraderie. When employees feel valued and supported, gossip is less likely to find fertile ground. 

Rule #4—Talk, talk, talk 

Often, gossip arises from miscommunication or a need for more information. Encourage open communication where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns or seeking clarification. Establish regular team meetings and one-on-one sessions to address issues promptly and transparently.  

Rule #5—Offer conflict resolution training 

Providing conflict resolution training equips employees with the necessary skills to handle disagreements and disputes constructively. When employees are confident in their ability to address conflicts directly, they are less likely to resort to gossip as an outlet for their frustrations. 

Rule #6—Provide channels for anonymous reporting 

While open communication is vital, some employees will never feel comfortable coming forward with issues. Accept and embrace this by implementing anonymous reporting channels for employees to share their concerns. Anonymity allows employees to speak up without fear, enabling management to address problems that would have otherwise gone unreported. 

Rule #7—Give them empathy training 

Organize team-building activities to strengthen bonds among employees. These activities encourage collaboration, empathy, and understanding among team members, reducing the likelihood of them speaking negatively about one another. 

Stopping gossip in the workplace is a collective effort that requires strong leadership, open communication, and a commitment to building a positive workplace culture. By fostering an environment where employees feel valued, heard, and respected, gossip can be stopped in its tracks. Remember, a gossip-free workplace not only boosts productivity but also enhances employee satisfaction and wellbeing. 


Photo credit:  © beast01 E+ via Getty Images Plus 

Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors. 




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