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Job fears spark water-cooler whispering

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

The recession has led to more than just job cuts. It has also opened the door to more gossip around the water cooler.

“People are worried about losing their jobs, so it’s a big fuel for the gossip fire,” says Sam Chapman, author of The No-Gossip Zone. “The backbiting gets worse because the stakes are raised.”

In a survey conducted last year by the Society for Human Resource Management, 54% of managers said they had seen an increase in gossip or rumors about downsizing or layoffs. And social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook make it that much easier to gossip about co-workers, bosses and the workplace.

Want to quash rumors? Kathi Elster, co-author of Working with You Is Killing Me, offers these guidelines:

• If you gossip and then realize what you have done, apologize to your listener.

• Understand the cost of gossiping at work. You will acquire a reputation of someone who should not be promoted into positions requiring confidentiality.

• Never be seen as someone who repeats or tells stories that could tarnish anyone’s record. Let that person tarnish his own record.

• Since gossip is a way for us to feel better
about ourselves (by putting others down), look for more professional ways to feel better about yourself—for example, volunteer to run a charitable event for your company.

• If someone says that you cannot repeat what they are about to tell you, it’s OK to say, “I would rather you did not tell me.”

— Adapted from “Your Career: Job fears fuel gossip at work,” Eve Tahmincioglu, MSNBC.com.

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