View Full Version : does everyone get gossiped about?

Zoe Girl
6-18-11, 9:59am
I know that may be a silly question, I have debated about putting the question here or in the more relationshippy area. The reason for putting it here is that I want to see if it really affects me at work after all.

I have been talked about my whole life. I pretty much figured it was because I am typically the odd one in the group in some way. I did my best to be outrageous and cool so at least what people were saying was something I could agree with. I have had times when the stories or lies really did hurt and I was in a relationship where my ex thought that was ridiculous. It really was only twice that I felt very hurt by gossip. Most of the time I pay attention to the people I respect and see the rest as more of a sign of the person they are than the person I am.

So the deal where my staff told my supervisor that I letting the power go to my head is bigger than I thought. My friend at another summer camp site already knew that long before my supervisor was told. The people at her camp do not know that we are friends outside of work and just passed on the gossip from actually another staff person at my site who I didn't know was part of this. It doesn't feel good (especially since the last year everyone and their brother has encouraged me to be more assertive) but I also can't see how this needs to affect me at work.

And the orginal question stands, is gossip something that singles me out as the odd one or something that really happens to everyone? I think that would change my attitude quite a bit.

6-18-11, 12:05pm
Zoe, in the situation you describe, is it possible that your staff at the various sites actually think this (that you are on a power trip) and are sharing their thoughts about the situation rather than gossiping?

As to your specific question, yes, I believe everyone, at some point in their life, is the target of gossip. And to extend on that, I would also imagine that everyone, at some point in their life, has also gossiped about others.

6-18-11, 12:15pm
I believe everyone, at some point in their life, is the target as gossip. And to extend on that, I would also imagine that everyone, at some point in their life, has also gossiped about others.

I agree. I've been the target of hurtful gossip, and sadly I've gossiped about others as well. Gossiping is a sign of immaturity IMO and something I do my best to stay far away from these days.

6-18-11, 2:44pm
Oh yes. Gossip is pretty much what people do, unless they've made a personal effort to train themselves not to. There are whole magazines devoted to national and international gossip.

One place I worked in a small room with three other people. A couple of times I walked it the room to that sudden silence that says they were talking about me. I said, "I was never so interesting before I came to work here." They laughed.

Also, anyone in a position of authority will get talked about in the sense of discussing decisions you've made or what people think of your management style.

6-18-11, 3:04pm
I too have walked in on fellow employees and knew they were talking about me...I have to learn to keep my mouth shut (to not gossip) about others as I think it's kind of a circular thing.

6-18-11, 3:17pm
I do think most people are the topic of others' conversations at some time. And when you are the boss or the supervisor or the professor or the committee chair, then your decisions and energy and communications to other people will often be discussed. I think that Reyes makes an important distinction between sharing information and gossip. I think maybe what Zoegirl is experiencing is the judgment part ("she's on a power trip" rather than "I don't like the decisions that the new supervisor is making") which is unfortunately the way that many people communicate about their own feelings.

It makes sense to me that people who have some authority over other people should expect to have their decisions discussed and chewed over. Because people are the way that they are, you are likely to be judged either negatively or positively, and those judgments are likely to be widely shared. The easy-to-say, hard-to-do part is to let people have their judgments without getting defensive (you are not going to change anyone's mind by defending yourself...not you, Zoegirl, but anyone) and simply reiterate that you would like to hear any concerns first hand. I have encountered this sort of thing in my teaching career. Breathing slowly and deeply while confronting it helps, too (!!!).

Probably lots of other people talk about me though I am really not all that interesting, but during my divorce and getting together with my partner I am sure many people had many "observations" to make about me. Sometimes it was hard because I was seen in a negative light simply for existing and dating my now-partner but I tried to remember it really reflected the person having the thought.

I love how reader99 named the beast when it was happening...and got a laugh! Oh, and I used to gossip miserably...but I just hated the feeling when someone might hear, or when what I said would get back...what I found to work the best for me in stopping the gossip was to stop making judgments about people's behaviour. At least I don't do it MUCH anymore, and I make a practice to not say anything out loud about a person that I would not say directly to that person. That pretty much leaves judgments out! I can't say that I changed overnight or that it was easy but this is a MUCH better, kinder, and far more comfortable place for me.

iris lily
6-18-11, 5:58pm
...Also, anyone in a position of authority will get talked about in the sense of discussing decisions you've made or what people think of your management style.

This. It also plays to what Reyes said. They are talking about you and that's not necessarily gossip.

6-19-11, 1:50am
I work in a very gossipy business - food and beverage. There is constant gossip about co workers and management at every serving job I have ever held. Can I say I have never engaged in this? I guess I could but I'd be lying. In this business too when you are talked about and arrive on the scene and realize you are being talked about, often the gossip keeps going with no regard whatsoever for you. So what can one do? Here is what I try to do, repeat try, (I'm not 100%): I try to throw some positive gossip out there, to keep low on the radar screen, to realize that this job for me is mostly about cash flow and it not about who I am as a person, and also I try to remember that when October comes and this is over, I will quite likely never see many of these people again. So how important is their gossip anyway, when you get right down to it? Rob

6-19-11, 7:57am
I like the positive gossip idea! Will try that to curb my own desire to gossip.

Miss Cellane
6-19-11, 8:03am
I think any manager or supervisor has their actions discussed. Especially if those actions and decisions are unpopular. It's easy for an employee to brand a supervisor "mean" when all the supervisor is trying to do is to get the employee to do the work he/she was hired to do.

It's easy to be popular with employees. You praise everything they do. You don't correct their mistakes. If you have to bring their mistakes up, you hide the criticism in a cloud of praise for anything they do well. You let them come in late and leave early. You let them take long lunches and multiple smoke breaks and surf the web all day.

Of course, at some point, that popular manager gets fired, because the department's performance isn't up to standards.

When I was a kid, I'd sometime tell my mother, "You are the meanest mom in the entire world!" And her response was always the same, "Thank you. That means that I'm doing my job right." Because parenting, like managing, involves giving people consequences for their actions and taking unpopular stances, like enforcing bedtimes and production quotas.

So, as a manager, I'd accept the fact that I would be talked about, and sometimes that talk would be negative. I'd listen to the bits of gossip that came my way, so that I could know what was going on in my department. Not to change my decisions and actions, but maybe to learn to present them in a different way, so that employees could understand the reasoning behind them. And I'd keep an eye out for those employees who were complaining the most, to see if they were a negative influence on the rest of the employees--something that could be dealt with in their annual reviews.

6-19-11, 9:58am
Yup, we all do this at some point in our lives. As I see it, the opportunity is to learn to drop the story line I have about if/when someone else gossips about me, and simply understand that it's their behavior, and not get pulled into it.