• Fri, Nov 11 2011

Women Spread Gossip Faster Than Kim Kardashian’s Marriage, But That May Not Be Bad In The Workplace

According to a new study, 85% of women say once they get a juicy piece of gossip they have to spread. The survey of 3,000 women found on average it takes 32 minutes and 45 seconds before a friend or colleague’s trust is betrayed to at least one other person.  Modern technology was blamed for this phenomenon, as information can be shared with large numbers of people, all over the world at the click of a button.

A spokesperson for skinware brand Simple, which commissioned the study said: “This poll clearly shows that women really struggle to keep secrets.” Almost half questioned said that they often felt the need to offload their secrets to someone while a sneaky 13% said they intentionally relayed gossip so that it would spread. While 40% thought it was acceptable to share a friend’s secret with a stranger. However, a quarter said they end up feeling guilty after blurting out private information.

But according to new research, office gossip may not be the worst thing ever. The rumor mill can provide insight into workplace politics and power. Just last week Linda Hill, the Wallace Brett Donham Professor Business Administration at Harvard Business School said managers should actually get involved with office politics and gossip. Researchers have pointed out that gossip forges connections, builds trust, provides a means of learning unwritten social norms and offers a way of comparing ourselves with others.
Now, not that I’m saying you should go join a conversation and also guess how many people your co-worker Jenny has slept with but if you completely remove yourself from the office scuddlebutt you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage. Here are some tips for managing office gossip:
  • Often, the best option is to remove yourself from the situation–much easier said than done in this job market. If circumstances have you staying put, the best bet may be to befriend the trash-talkers and try to build a relationship.
  • If you have to gossip, toss in a dose of sarcasm. It creates safety because you can always claim you really didn’t mean what you said.
  • If you want to stanch the flow of gossip, simply speak up. Even easier than disagreeing is changing the subject. Compliment a colleague or bring up lunch plans.
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