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I have this bad habit of gossiping around everyone. Sometimes, it feels really embarrassing as I think that gossiping and backstabbing about my colleagues, I am not only cheating them but myself too. Me and one of my friend use to gossip about everyone in our office during lunch break. Although both of us enjoy making fun of others including our seniors and juniors in the office, from inside I feel that I really should not do it. It feels like I am breaking everyone's trust. Sometimes I have tried to stop this but it only lasted for not more than a day. During most of the times, I also think about what should I talk to my friend if we don't gossip about others.

At other times, I think a good solution would be to always speak good of others with my friends. But saying this is a lot easier task than doing the same. Once, I read the book "The Four Agreements" in which there is a whole chapter on this topic. But I merely followed this book for a few days only and then went back to my original gossiping state.

Whenever I or my friend gets angry with anyone in our office or if we find someone too stupid in doing the easiest tasks, then we gossip about them during lunch break and make fun of that person.

But now, I seriously want to improve myself and get rid of this habit to make myself a better and improved person.

I want to stop this habit, and stop it from potentially impacting my colleagues.

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    Don't you think this is more of an intrapersonal problem that becomes too cumbersome when navigating the workplace rather than a "raw" workplace problem? Seems off-topic here. – OldPadawan Jul 13 '18 at 12:33
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    I've edited this to make it a little more workplace related. It might be better to address this habit's effect on your colleagues rather than mainly about this habit of yours. – user44108 Jul 13 '18 at 13:00
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    How to stop gossiping seems more like a psychology problem than a workplace one (there may also be an interpersonal element in identifying when this happens and figuring out what to talk about instead, although both of those things are probably things you should figure out yourself). Have you considered speaking to a therapist? – Dukeling Jul 13 '18 at 16:55
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I applaud you for wanting to "stop" and "get rid of this habit" rather than just curbing it. I agree with all of the insights that you have reached regarding this. Some of the answers suggest saving the gossip for another time or place, which might be a starting point, but that doesn't really address the toxic nature of engaging in that habit.

I think the first step is to consider and internalize the idea that regardless of location -- workplace or not -- gossip is harmful to all parties involved, and any solution will require finding a way to stop it, or redirect to a healthier action.

Obviously, it's not helpful to the person being talked about. It also influences preconceptions for the person you are talking to, so even if the two have never met, you can imagine the one-sided bias that is already formed if they ever do meet in the future. In the case where the person you are gossiping to does know the subject, then it reinforces any negativity towards that person. No truly good feelings ever result from gossip.

Mostly it harms you and your reputation. If you become known as a gossip, people will be reluctant to confide in you during times that they need to talk to a close friend. It isolates you from having deeper closeness, and can causes other people to have stress for your moment of entertainment.

It sounds like you are already coming to that realization, or you wouldn't have asked the question. One technique is to get in the practice of mindfulness about what you are about to do or say. One popular approach is to ask yourself these questions before speaking, and letting each act as a "gate" for your words:

  1. Is it true? Is what I am about to say true, and from a reliable source?
  2. Is it kind? Even if it is true, does this build someone up or tear them down?
  3. Is it necessary? Why do I feel the need to say this?

I also think about what should I talk to my friend if we don't gossip about others.

This is a very poignant concern. Your refusal to participate in gossip is likely to irritate others who want someone to share in their gossip, but being clear and persistent is key. After a while, people who know you are going to remember that you don't like to gossip, and they will curb what or how they share things with you. It may feel like you are being excluded at first, but you will realize that your wishes are being respected.

You can invite your friend to join you in this effort to improve yourself. Be sure to follow the three questions as you have this conversation as well. If possible, invite them in a way that isn't hurtful towards them, in much the same way you might ask for assistance in sticking to a workout schedule or breaking any other bad habit. Perhaps you could ask them some version like, "[Trusted friend], I'm trying to be more aware of what I say about others. I have realized that I say things about people that I wouldn't say if they were present. It affects my everyday relationships with those around me, and it's unfair to them. Can you help me catch myself if I start talking about someone in a way that I wouldn't if they were present?"

This lets them see that you are genuinely interested in improving yourself, you value their input, and does not come across as you trying to change their behavior. As a result, it might cause them to reflect on their own behavior and inspire them to change with you. You never know, they may already want the same thing. If they are a true friend, they will try to help with that. If your only common bond is the gossip, then this is a friendship that is unhealthy without some sort of change. You may have to be blunt and say, "I'm sorry, but I don't want to talk about them while they are not here," and don't hang around if they continue anyway. This lets them know you are serious about it.

Your time would better be spent focusing on how you can assist or at get along with the inept coworker. Getting to know them better will help much more than gossiping about them ever will. Best wishes for you on this journey. You can do it, and it's worth it!

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Just stop gossiping in the office and take this kind of discussion out of the office.

Assume that you're being overheard while you're speaking and think about the harm that your comments being taken out of context may cause those whom you're gossiping about.

Make social plans with your friend and agree to take these discussions outside of the workplace. Even better, talk about other things while you're out of the office.

If you can't really prevent yourself from speaking about colleagues, make the mental effort to make sure that most of the gossip is positive in nature. Seek and promote the good in people whenever possible.

  • I would contend that the advice here is less than helpful. Telling an alcoholic to "just stop drinking" or a person with AD(H)D to "just pay better attention" completely marginalizes their problem. Obviously those are more extreme examples, but the OP mentioned that they've tried to stop in the past and was not successful, so something novel, it seems, is necessary. – John Doe Jul 13 '18 at 22:44
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You already recognized that this is an issue and you need to stop, therefore there's really no other answer that will make more sense than continual discipline of your habits.

Old habits are hard to kill but not impossible. Keep track of what you say and when you get those "urges", you as a person will need to have to strong will to stop it. You will fail but get back up again, continually get better and don't be discouraged.

There's usually a trigger in these cases as to why you start doing it, perhaps its boredom or the sense of enjoyment when you gossip, possibly you like looking down on others to make yourself feel better or you just don't value privacy. I don't know. But you will need to understand who you are and why you seem to take these actions.

Good luck OP.

NOTE: You should really post this to Intrapersonal Skills Exchange as this is more aligned with that site.

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    Interpersonal skills will close this in less time than it would take to copy-paste it. This is an intrapersonal issue, and they love closing questions. – BlindSp0t Jul 13 '18 at 15:55
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    Thanks @BlindSp0t. You are right. Intrapersonal. Also Reddit (Which I highly recommend) – Isaiah3015 Jul 13 '18 at 15:57
  • There is no stack exchange for intrapersonal skills unfortunately, so that leaves Reddit (have to find the correct sub though), and maybe trying to find a coach which will give guidance and tips to follow during the day? – BlindSp0t Jul 13 '18 at 16:05
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If you lack the ability to refrain from falling into bad habits, perhaps you need to spend a month (or two or three) and completely cut yourself off from any sort of friendly interaction at work. I don't mean be a jerk. Just sit by yourself at lunch, abstain from non-work-related conversations, that sort of thing. Once you've gotten the hang o that, slowly reintroduce (one at a time) your usual social interactions, preferably group activities first before resuming one-on-one interactions.

You fall into bad habits because that are habits, as in you habitually do them. Cold turkey might more of a lasting effect.

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