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How to Deal With Office Gossip

Savvy Confessions: How Do I Deal With a Gossipy Office?

This reader posted in our anonymous Savvy Confessions group, venting how much people gossip at her office. Do you have any advice for her?
I began a new job about 6 months ago and while I love what I do, I am having questions about whether or not the office that I am in is the right place for me.  My co-workers are always gossiping & involved in drama, while I prefer to have as little drama in my life as possible.  The office is very small, and only 6 people total work there, but I share a space with 2 of them. They are always instant messaging one another while we are all in the office, and they IM with the other people in our office. It is very uncomfortable, and I have a constant sense of anxiety & uneasiness.  My job is already stressful enough (I work in substance abuse treatment), and self-care is very important to avoid burnout, but I have actually left work early in the past because I was so uncomfortable.  It has gotten to a point where I sit at my desk with my head phones in, and just do my work without really talking to anyone.  In a way, I feel very isolated, but I also realize that I isolate myself for self-preservation.  I just don't know what to do.  My boss knows about the gossiping and the drama, and he is fed up with it too, but won't do anything about it.  He just keeps telling me that "they are on thin ice & better watch out."  It is very frustrating.  This position offers a lot of opportunity for personal advancement (outside of the company), and I have been told by a supervisor that if I can just stick it out for the full year, it would help me greatly with my future as a counselor.  I am just trying to figure out if it is worth it.  I was also told (by the same supervisor) that this is not the first time that this company has had issues like this with employees starting gossip, so I have very little hope that it will change.  Please help shed some light on this situation.

Pose your own anonymous questions or off-load your work confessions by posting in the Savvy Confessions group, and I'll find the right expert to help you out.

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testadura67 testadura67 5 years
It sounds like everything your supervisor says is vague. "They're on thin ice and better watch out" for what? Is there an HR department and a procedure for disciplinary action? Written up twice, suspended once, then dismissed? Also, how would staying for a year benefit your future as a counselor? Is that upward mobility in the company, or just generally gaining experience. I would ask your supervisor to quantify what they're talking about. Set goals with your supervisor for your own career development, as well as how to manage the workplace environment. Your coworkers can gossip after work all they want at the bar, but they shouldn't be doing it at the office during business hours. If your supervisor doesn't start coming through, I'd start looking for other work if you're that uncomfortable.
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