No one likes it when other people talk about them in a negative way. However, it seems that hardly any of us can resist getting caught up in the occasional gossiping that can take place when we are in an office setting.
When I worked as a police officer, I was both shocked and disappointed at how much gossiping took place throughout the department! Because we were so closely knit, it wasn't uncommon to overhear one person talking negatively about someone else and something that had taken place either while that person was on duty or off duty. It seemed as if the gossiping was worse if police officers hung out with each other outside of work. I had a few friends from my police academy that I would hang out with outside of work, but we were always respectful about what we said regarding one another and never talked badly about the other person while we were at work. However, the older officers and other administrative people who had been there for a while would speculate and gossip about the newcomers and about each other as if it was no big deal.
Eventually, I was able to witness the suspension of several officers based on gossip that had flown around the department. In several instances, when the negative gossip about various officers turned out to be true, I witnessed the dismissal of several people. It was both unfortunate and sad that something that had started out so small had led to several officers getting fired. Upon leaving the police department and entering into the private sector of the working population, I found that while the gossip was not nearly as bad, it was still prevalent.
If you work in a small office, it can be extremely easy to get caught up in jealousy or speculation- all of which leads to whispering, snickering and messages back and forth about what is going on with whom and who is getting paid more than someone else. The negative side to gossip is that it can weaken company morale and eventually lead to the downfall of a company based on lack of motivation, intimidation or even self criticism because you know and/or think that others are judging you.
While there may not be a lot that you can do to prevent gossiping from taking place at your office or place of work, you do have control over whether or not you choose to become an active participant in the gossip that is going on. If you feel comfortable enough doing so, you can voice your concern and/or opinion over how you disagree with talking about other people. If you do not feel comfortable confronting others about the gossiping that is taking place, then it may be something that you will want to meet with your supervisor privately about so that he or she can address it as an anonymous complaint. Whatever you do, if you find yourself among others who are gossiping about another employee or co-worker, imagine how you would feel if they were speaking the same way about you and then base you reaction on this. The easiest thing that you can do is to just walk away.