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How to Deal with a Gossipy Co-Worker

Listening to gossip is fun — unless they're whispering about you. Here's how to shut down the office busybody.


  • Step 1: Be kind Gossips act out of insecurity. So the next time the office tattler starts to share her suspicions that the new girl is bulimic, make a complimentary transition like, "Have you lost weight? You look terrific." She'll be so flattered she'll completely forget what she was saying.
  • Step 2: Be positive Totally aggravate her by playing Susie Sunshine to her Nasty Nelly. If she growls, "Doris snuck out at four yesterday," say, "Good for her! She works so hard" (even if you, too, think Doris is a deadbeat.)
  • Step 3: Don't encourage it Don't encourage her. Even if you're dying to ask her how she knows that two married colleagues have embarked on a torrid affair with each other, grit your teeth and change the subject.
  • TIP: Don't think that being friendly with the office gossip will keep you safe — gossips talk about everyone.
  • Step 4: Entrap Trap the big mouth by telling her a lie about yourself that you emphasize is top secret. Then tell your co-workers what you've done so they can report to you when the fake rumor has reached them—and then confront her when it does.
  • Step 5: Enlist your co-workers Make a pact with other employees that when the town crier gets going, you'll all get going, too. She won't be able to gossip if no one is listening.
  • Step 6: Speak up Her lips are still flapping? Take her aside and ask her to really think about what she's doing. With as much tact and diplomacy as you can muster, ask her to refrain from talking about others to you.
  • Step 7: Approach your supervisor As a last resort, talk to your supervisor. Stress that you tried handling the situation yourself. And don't make it personal — drive home the point that the gossip is affecting productivity.
  • FACT: According to a British survey, teachers are the worst workplace backstabbers, with a full 78% admitting to bitching about their colleagues.

You Will Need

  • Tolerance to counter her pettiness
  • Determination to stop the gossip
  • And willingness to fight fire with fire

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