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Psst. Have you heard? No? Well the word on the street is ...
We've all been there. A coworker has some juicy news he can't wait to share and you are so tempted to hear about it, but you know better than to engage in office gossip. As a leader at a small firm, it's up to you to manage damaging work place behavior.
Here are four ways to stop office gossip.
1. Distinguish Between Good and Bad Gossip
Positive gossip can actually be a good thing, so it's important at the outset to distinguish between the type of gossip you want to stop in the office, according to Forbes. What's good gossip? Anything with a positive message -- whether it's about employees or the company. Bad gossip, on the other hand, can have negative consequences for the workplace. Spreading negative news decreases productivity, morale and can get people fired.
2. Nip It in the Bud
If you know there are particular people in the office engaging in this type of behavior then you may want to meet with them privately about their behavior. Let them know that negative office gossip is not only unprofessional, but damaging to relationships and morale.
3. Have a Meeting
After you've met with gossipers independently, set up a staff meeting to deal with the issue, or add it on to an agenda of an existing meeting. You can go over the different types of gossip, the office policy, and give employees tips for dealing with gossip. For example, let them know that if someone approaches them with negative gossip, they can say something like "I don't feel comfortable talking about that," "I'm not sure we should be talking about that at work," or simply just change the subject, suggests Business Training Works.
4. Lead by Example
It's one thing to say something, it's another to actually do what you say. The best way for you to achieve a behavioral goal at your law firm is to lead by example. If you don't want people to spread negative gossip, then you shouldn't do it either.
Negative office gossip can cause a toxic workplace environment. The best way to keep your law office free from negativity is to be clear about expectations, keep morale up amongst staff, and don't engage in any type of behavior yourself that you don't want your employees engaging in.
Have you effectively stopped office gossip? Let us know @FindLawLP on Twitter.
Editor's note, May 17, 2016: This post was first published in May, 2014. It has since been updated.