At work, there is so much gossip. I hate it, but I can’t stop | Work & careers


The question I can’t stop chatting and complaining about the people around me. It mostly happens at work and I’m not the only one doing it. it’s a toxic environment where rattles are the norm, so it’s hard to resist. Every day I give myself a little chat about how I’m not going to say a bad word about someone and every day I get sucked into gossip or end up saying something mean. It’s the trait that I regret the most in myself and I’m beginning to believe that deep down I’m a horrible person who doesn’t deserve friends. I used to pride myself on my ability to be honest, opinionated, and outspoken, but the balance tipped into bitterness, whining, and impulsive gossip. The worst part is that when I rant about someone, I basically don’t have negative feelings about them and I don’t understand why I say such horrible things.

I’ve been working hard on myself for the past few years (getting sober, going to therapy) and I’m ashamed that I haven’t evolved into a better person. I don’t want to be small-minded by getting a thrill from bringing down others. I really respect and admire people who are more positive, open-minded and able to control their thoughts and emotions around others – how can I become that person and say goodbye to that toxic part once and for all by myself ?

Philippa’s response You have identified and articulated your problem; you are on the right track to change course. I’d like you to look up Portia Nelson’s famous poem: An autobiography in five chapters. It’s about walking down a road and falling into a hole. She falls, it’s not her fault. Then she sees the hole, she knows she’s going to fall in, it’s still not her fault, after which she sees the hole, she falls in, it’s her fault. She sees the hole, she walks around it. Then she walks entirely on another street. His metaphor means you have to let go when you learn a new habit, it takes time to change behavior.

It’s hard to stop chatting, especially if you don’t feel safe in your work environment. It’s a quick way to bond with someone when you have a third party that you both agree is bad in some way. As the witty and socialite Alice Roosevelt Longworth once said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…come and sit beside me.

Gossip can work like glue, it circulates between people who feel mutually friendly and it’s a sign that you trust them. There are disadvantages. If you hear negative gossip about someone, it can change the way you think about them, which can be unfair and harsh. It’s also not great when it seems like it’s become your turn to be the subject of the gossip. But gossip can ease any feelings of tension or animosity you may have towards people as it can release any pressure you may have felt but, of course, if you find a more direct way of communicating tactfully , it can be better for everyone.

In any group, there are stages in how the group develops. In 1965, psychologist Bill Tuckman observed that it was all about: form, normalize, storm, then play. It sounds like at work you’re at the “norming” stage, and the norm is backstabbing and gossiping! And as a group, you’re all stuck there.

I wonder if you can start changing the culture of your workplace? The storm this can cause may not be terrible. It will help you: Get used to making “I” statements. So instead of “he’s annoying,” notice “I feel irritated,” thereby taking responsibility for your reactions and realizing that just because someone is irritating you doesn’t mean there’s something wrong. don’t go to his house. This habit will help you take responsibility for your response rather than blaming the other person. You may also wonder what is there about them that might remind you of a trait you wish you didn’t have. You can experience more direct communication. To do this, again, stick to the “I statements”. So rather than saying “you’re always late”, try “I get anxious unless you make it by then”. The general rule being, say how something makes you feel, then say what behavior you would like instead. It might not be as fun as moaning to your office best friend, but it might be more useful.

You are very hard on yourself for gossip. You do to yourself what you do to others. If you were more understanding with yourself, it will likely help you show similar generosity to your co-workers. You can already articulate your problem and you are in the stage of catching up after doing so, so you are on the right track. The next step is instead of beating yourself up, congratulate yourself – “Ah ha! That’s what I don’t want to do anymore! Defer judgment completely and instead be curious about people and yourself. Don’t judge, there’s no need to damn anyone or praise them, you can just show interest in them.

Notice your progress, notice the temptations, and indulge yourself when you don’t act on it.

And, if we’re ever at the same party, come sit next to me.

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