Nearly every office has one person endlessly hanging on someone else’s cubicle partition rattling off (or entirely fabricating) her version of today’s office drama. Working with a gossip is annoying, but very easy to circumvent with this two-step strategy.
“Do not feed the bears.”
Never tell the gossip anything not contained in the office memo she has in her inbox. Say hello. Be polite. Innocuous topics, including the time and weather (and it’s lack of effect on office working conditions in the advanced age of air conditioning), are safe.
No other topics than those stated above equal no gossip.
Bear in mind, everything you tell the gossip will be broadcast to the rest of the office staff in a matter of minutes. To be fair, not everything exactly. Some portions of your rendition of facts, conditions or events will be exaggerated to the point of being utterly unrecognizable, in the interest of her signature brand of panache.
“I have a call on the other line.”
Having your own work to do discourages the gossip. You are not his preferred audience. Failing to exhibit what he considers appropriate body language, such as the chin-in-palm-of-hand perch or the sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat posture, convinces the gossip you have no social skills.
“I know you had to have noticed…”
Be forewarned: This apparent (only to the gossip) handicap will be fodder for him to distribute to all of your office mates. Take heart: You will not be a minority. As others find this approach is effective, they, too, will exhibit the handicap of their own accord.
Engaging the entire office in a strategy to deprive the gossip of an audience requires a little more work, but is such a rewarding endeavor.
Camera One, Pan Left
~ During the weekly meeting, let him do his “Horseshack” impression. Call on him as the absolute last possible resort. The remaining staff should affect boredom or snore during his answer.
~ At the water cooler, feigning choking is an effective method of retreating from her. When the gossip attempts first aid, state you prefer death.
If at this point she still attempts to inflict herself upon you and your office mates, send every scrap of work across her desk to ensure she hasn’t the time to roam and gossip.
How far have you gone to get away from a gossip?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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