“The most powerful force in the universe is gossip,” said Dave Barry, the American writer and humorist. If you have been subjected to harassment and bullying in the workplace, you know that Barry is right. We can tell ourselves, as did the English novelist George Eliot: “Gossip is a kind of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco pipes of those who spread it, and proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker.” the truth is that gossip hurts
A quick look at the dictionary offers a definition of gossip:
“Rumor or talk about a personal, sensational or intimate nature”.
Given that definition, it is easy to see why bullying in the workplace and gossip go hand in hand. A bully is always willing to show others that he is the best. He “proves” this by diminishing or destroying someone else. The gossip fits well in their tactics, because it can expand the truth or invent a lie about its objective without having to face it directly.
Sadly, you just have to look at the large number of magazines, websites and news reports to see how easy it is to get people involved in gossip.
How do you deal with bullying at work and gossip? Let’s see 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 warning that appeared on posters in offices and manufacturing plants. You do not need to be unfriendly at work; just be careful with what he says and with whom he says it. Pay attention to the Chinese proverb that says: “What is told in a man’s ear is often heard 100 miles away.”
If you are sure that a bully is spreading gossip about you and what you are saying, ask yourself, “Is any of this true?” Sometimes we need to hear a message or at least part of it. While gossip is not the best way to receive comments, be open to listening to what is being said. Maybe there is a core of truth that you can adopt.
Or, you might consider facing the harasser over the gossip. If you choose to face yourself, try this method:
· Isolate the person. Find a place and time where you can talk only to the gossip spreader / intimidator.
· Say: “I have reason to believe that you are gossiping about me, and I would like you to stop.” Only a simple statement is the key. Do not look to talk and debate. A bully will never say, “Oh, I’m sorry.” Rather, they will seek to deny, even defend and, for the most part, reject their comments. Know that by stating that you know (can) cause the aggressor to see you stronger than you thought.
· Stop talking. Trying to explain will take you to the middle of a discussion that you can not win. Consider moving away first to show your confidence. Staying for approval and / or connection will not give you more power.
In short, when dealing with bullying in the workplace, 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 diver in the Main Navy. Others intimidated 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 to encourage it.
Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make me feel inferior without my consent.” Nobody can take away your dignity. It is up to you to value yourself.