Every now and then you can find yourself in a work environment with a co-worker who just loves to gossip. He (she) has juicy new tidbits of information about people every day, and looks for any opportunity to share them (along with his own editorial comments, of course…). Gossips can be quite entertaining – until, of course, it becomes you or your friends’ turn to be the subject of conversation.
The best way to deal with a gossip is to use a combination of subtle positive and negative reinforcement. Whenever he begins talking about the latest bit of dirty laundry, make a point to be completely noncommittal, then change the subject as fast as you can. Whatever you do, don’t say anything that might possibly encourage him. When he is talking about legit business topics, however, make it a point to be fully engaged with eye contact, smiles and support. Over time, the gossip will figure out that that you are interested in business – not funny business.
One last piece of advice – it’s also a good idea never to volunteer your opinion on things or people when you’re around the gossip. You have to work on the assumption that everything you say will be shouted from the rooftops.