The office isn’t that different from the playground. You have the same personalities and sometimes the same drama that often changes from day to day. There are the alphas that want to rule the swing sets who then grow up to be brooding roosters around the office peering over everyone’s desk. The one character that remains from youth to now is the gossiper. Every office has one and it’s in your best interest to stay clear away from this person.
Getting caught up with any gossip in the office will blur the lines between information and rumour. The worst is when you find yourself repeating what you’ve heard and finding yourself pulled into a game of ‘he said/she said.’ This will never turn out good. Gossip only leads to division and resentment which creates a recipe for disaster in any atmosphere.
I’ve worked in 3 offices and each place always had office gossipers. They all varied in degree of content from minor office updates to reporting on people’s personal business. You could tell they got pleasure from being the person to tell you something you’ve never heard before. Their conversations only came in two forms – filling you in on some news and trying to extract information from you. Never good or beneficial.
When it comes to advancing your career, being connected to gossip or any office politics will set you back and paint you in a bad light to management. It may seem that being in the ‘know’ could give you a leg up or get you into the ‘it’ crowd. But for a manager to promote you and give you more responsibility and access to more information, they have to trust you. Who trusts someone who is known to run their mouth? No one. The higher you get up the ladder, the more confidential data you gain access to. As a manager I’d never let the office gossip come anywhere near the confidential files I work with daily. That’s too much of a risk.
Best advice I ever got from a mentor was to ‘keep my head down and do the work.’ Not to say that you can’t join group outings, lunches, etc but avoid being involved in the gossip for your own mental health and your career longevity.