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How to: Battle the Rumor Mill and Prevent Gossip

Have you ever played the game Whispers? If not, you should try it sometime. You start by putting everyone in a circle or a line. Then one person whispers something to the person next to them. That same message is conveyed down the line, and when it gets to the last person, they say what they heard aloud.

I’d say, 99% of the time, that message has changed dramatically from the first person to the last.

This is the nature of rumors and gossip. By the time it reaches the last person in the line, the message or statement isn’t what it started out as.

There’s a saying in the military: The shit don’t flow uphill.

What that means is that you can complain to your coworker about things you don’t like at work until you’re blue in the face, but until you tell management what the problem is, nothing is going to be done about it. All the complaint to the coworker does is breed negativity. Then it becomes a chore to go to work each day, slogging through all the Negative Nancys just to get your job done. After a while, it ends up impacting your health, and eventually, you quit because the stress is too much.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to go into an office each day where people are genuinely happy to be there?

There’s excellent news! You can! There are just a few easy steps to making your workplace the happiest place on Earth. Yes, that’s a Disney quote, and while the actual Disney park is the happiest place on Earth, who’s to say your workplace can’t come in second?

Are you ready to change your life? Grab a pen and paper, and let’s do this.

Step 1 – Identify the Problem

What is the actual issue? Is it that you’re dissatisfied with your working conditions? Do you feel too much is expected of you? Are you finding yourself raging with jealousy because someone else was chosen over you for a position? Whatever it may be, write it down.

Step 2 – Think of a Solution

What would fix the issue? Do there need to be more people involved with a specific task? Fewer people? Do you need the cubicle walls to go away? Do you need that position more than anyone knows and feel you’re the best fit? Write down how you suggest the issue be rectified.

Step 3 – Find a Few Examples

This can be how productivity in an office was increased when walls were removed or even the typical number of people needed for specific project types. If it’s about that position you deserved, gather credentials. Print them out or write them down.

Step 4 – Practice Your Pitch

You can do this in a mirror or with a friend or spouse—anyone outside the workplace. Let them argue against your idea. They may raise a question you weren’t prepared for, and you can fix that before you take the final few steps. Adjust your documentation.

Step 5 – Set a Meeting

Take your idea and research to your manager, not your coworker. See, your coworker(s) can’t do anything to change your circumstances. You’re going to have to get over yourself and go to the top. Set that meeting and shine. After all, you’re prepared with research and a way to fix the issue you see. Be sure you’re going in without a chip on your shoulder. Be open and honest, but don’t be aggressive or demanding. It’s a discussion, not a war.

Step 6 – Be Patient but Assertive

It takes time to put things into action, so be patient for those changes to take effect. Your manager may need to go higher in the organization to get approval for your change(s). That doesn’t mean letting it go, however. Be sure things are moving, and if there’s no change after a while, set a meeting with a higher manager.

“If it matters to you, you’ll find a way. If it doesn’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

Fear is an excuse a lot of people use. They’re afraid if they say something, retribution will be forthcoming. Perhaps they’re afraid they’ll lose their jobs. If you follow the above steps, have a good argument in place, and go to your management prepared and without a battle-ready mind, what is there to fear?

The worst thing they can say is no, right?

It’s one thing to complain about an issue, but it’s a whole other ball of wax to take the time to find a solution for the thing that you’re unhappy about and present that solution in a way that behooves everyone involved.

If this makes you stop and think about your complaints and how there’s no good solution, perhaps it’s not the workplace that’s making you miserable. Examine that, but whatever you do, don’t breed negativity with your coworkers because you’re unhappy.

If you hear a rumor about someone or something, take that to your manager as well. Perhaps it’s true, and perhaps it’s not. Either way, you’ll know after you talk it out. Management will probably want to address that issue with everyone, and maybe it’ll stop it before it gets started.

Are you a manager? There are also a few things you can do to increase employee satisfaction.

1.) Let everyone know there will be no retribution for complaints lodged.

2.) Perhaps a survey of your employees, where people can speak openly and anonymously.

3.) One-on-one meetings you hold regularly, where people can air grievances.

Either way, management and employees need to work hand in hand to get things done and squash the gossip and rumor mills. If you don’t have cooperation, you don’t have a satisfactory working environment. No one wants to work in a place where they’re bombarded by negativity all day.

If you follow this guide, you’ll be well on your way to the best workplace imaginable. Dare we say it again? It will be the second happiest place on Earth.

Do you have tips to add to the above?


Jo Michaels

Marketing Coordinator

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