I recently let go of a bully gossiper. So this will help you gain the strength to cut ties with someone who gossips. Believe me - run away from these types of people. IT is worth it!!
“The most powerful force in the universe is gossip,” said Dave Barry, the American writer and humorist. If you have been the target of office bullying and gossip, you know Barry is right. We may be able to tell ourselves, as the English novelist George Eliot did, “Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of those who diffuse it; it proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker,” But the truth is, gossip hurts.
A quick look at the dictionary offers a definition of gossip:
“Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational or intimate nature.”
Given that definition, it’s easy to see why office bullying and gossip go hand in hand. A bully is always out to show others he’s the best. He “proves” this by diminishing or destroying someone else. Gossip fits well into his tactics, because he can enlarge upon truth or make up a lie about his target without having to confront her directly.
Sadly, you only have to look at the vast number of magazines, websites and “news” reports to see how easy it is to get people to join in on the gossip.
How, then, do you deal with office bullying and gossip? Let’s look at what some famous people have said about gossip that will give you some options.
“If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees,” said the Persian writer and mystic Kahlil Gibran.
During World War II there was a similar admonition that appeared on posters in offices and manufacturing plants. It was, “Loose lips sink ships.” In other words, be careful what you tell others. You don’t need to be unfriendly at work; just be cautious about what you say and who you say it to. Heed the Chinese proverb that says, “What is told in the ear of a man is often heard 100 miles away.”
If you know for sure a bully is spreading gossip about you and what he’s saying, ask yourself, “Is any of this true?” Sometimes we need to hear a message or at least part of it. While gossip isn’t the best way to get feedback, be open to listening to what is said. Maybe there’s a kernel of truth you can adopt.
Or, you might consider confronting the bully about the gossip. If you choose to confront, try this method:
- Isolate the person. Find a place and time that you can talk to the bully/spreader of gossip, alone.
- Say, “I have reason to believe you’re gossiping about me, and I’d like you to stop.” Just a simple statement is key. Do not look to converse and debate. A bully will never say, “oh, I’m sorry.” Rather they will look to deny, even defend and mostly dismiss your comments. Know that by stating that you know it (may) cause the bully to view you as stronger than they thought.
- Stop talking. Trying to explain will land you in the middle of an argument you can’t win. Consider walking away first to show your confidence. Staying around for approval and/ or connection will not win you more power.
Bottom line, when dealing with office bullying understand that you are in charge of how you feel about yourself. In the movie, “Men of Honor,” Cuba Gooding, Jr. played Carl Maxie Brashear, the first African-American Master Chief Navy Diver. Others bullied him and gossiped about him every step of the way. He reminded himself constantly, “This is what they say, not what I am.” I urge you to watch this movie for encouragement.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make me feel inferior without my consent.” No one can take away your dignity. It’s up to you to value yourself.
Valerie Cade, Founder
Bully Free at Work