Q. I have been working in my first job for a year now. The backbiting in this place is annoying! Recently, I was told by a colleague that another colleague was overheard saying that I am not good at my job. I fear that this could jeopardise my job, if anything, I believe I am a good employee. I feel I should do or say something, but I don’t know what.
Although every community has its share of gossip mongers, a pervasive culture of backbiting can indeed clog the social climate in a working environment. In many cases, gossip stains the dignity and reputation of its subject. It is therefore unsurprising that some scholars consider malicious gossip a form of violence that is often motivated by low self-esteem and a desire to fit in.
While attempts have been made to eliminate it through adopting a culture of openness, it is difficult to get rid of gossip. Indeed, some anthropologists argue that gossip is as old as language and part and parcel of social infrastructure. Organisations could however discourage gossip from colonising culture by embracing values that make it unacceptable in the workplace.
Unrestrained, gossip can erode trust, fracture morale and cause divisiveness among employees besides undermining productivity. It could also limit gossipers’ career advancement as, in spite of their interesting natter, they are perceived to be unprofessional and are rarely respected.
Dealing with unflattering remarks that have been made against you can be uncomfortable. Few people can claim to be perfectly impervious to disparaging information about them especially when it is untrue. You need not respond to every ungracious remark that is made about you. A gem that catches a little mud remains a gem.
Focus on what you can control, your job and your character. If you fall short of expectations, it is your supervisor, not the assembly of gossipers that should address the matter.
Do your part too. As Paul tells Ephesians (4:29), ‘Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers’. Determine not to tune into Gossip FM.