Let’s be honest – people like to gossip. I think it happens in most workplaces, especially within close-knit groups.

But is that really a bad thing? The word “gossip” sounds negative, but it can actually have some positive effects. Research indicates that office gossip can help people to relieve feelings of stress and frustration, and gain a greater sense of power and control over their situation.

But what if YOU are the focus of office gossip? And what if it’s hard to take? If that’s the case, then it’s helpful to know how to deal with it. The approach that you choose really depends on the type of gossip that’s being circulated.

  • Type of Gossip: Harmless and innocent.
    Best Response: Do nothing. Roll with it.
  • Type of Gossip: False and potentially damaging – and you know who started the rumors.
    Best Response: Tell the person or people who started the rumors that the rumors aren’t true. Be calm and reasonable, and try to use some humor if you can. Don’t get angry or overreact. You want to diffuse the tension and not give people more things to talk about.
  • Type of Gossip: False and potentially damaging – and you have no idea who started the rumors.
    Best Response: Talk to a group of coworkers whom you trust, and explain why the rumors are false and upsetting. These individuals will stand up for you when you’re not around, and help to stop the rumors from circulating further.


Shellenbarger, S. (2014, October 8). They’re gossiping about you. The Wall Street Journal, pp. D1, D2.