I've worked in different environments and industries at different ages and seems that whenever there is too much gossip going on in the office I want to quit ASAP.

I qualify this sort of environment of toxic... and it seems to be more frequent than I thought. I got some jobs with, some jobs without... and regardless of how I perform... so I am wondering how can I become less sensitive to this sort of thing since I cannot really tell before starting a job whether it would involve gossip or not.

I have already tried to confront people but turns out that the outcomes are generally not that productive and usually end up with "you misinterpreted what I've said" or "you're paranoid, I've never said that" (ok I know, I am super naive... expecting people to confess directly to you that they are saying bad things about you... is not likely to work).

Well, the problem is when it's convenient for them to gossip about someone else (other than me and me being right besides in the conversation) I can tell you that it cannot be misinterpreted... I found this particularly immature, period. Usually I attempt to defend the target that people are gossiping about (yup I am empathetic), but it does not really work.

For a lot of people a job just means bringing food on the table... for some others it means to enjoy what you are doing 8 hours a day, and I belong to the latter. It gives me the feeling that I am acting like a princess... that I should be tougher and not that picky because things are not going my way. Still I think it's particularly childish to not be straightforward... I guess it's human nature but I have a hard time coping with that.

My wife, some of my former managers and some former colleagues with whom I could get along told me that I should not take gossip personally, that people at work may always at some point say things that are inappropriate, but still it hurts... I tried to leverage some techniques like in this book but still that feeling does not leave me.

Should I be that guy that every now and then jumps to another job only after staying a few months because he found out that there was too much gossip in the company? I don't really think it inspires much confidence...

tl;dr How can I become more resilient to gossip about me in a corporate setting?


How to become more resilient to gossips about you in a corporate setting?

I think you should listen to your wife and friends and don't let this get onto you. Just try to keep it professional.

Try not to get involved in gossips as much as you can. If someone comes to you to share gossip politely turn them down.

If you hear or perceive gossip being told about you just don't pay attention to it. You surely have things to do in your work time, and gossips is not one of them. Don't engage with those people, as that is what they want, to get you involved so they can continue to add fuel to the fire.

Now, if gossips turn into harassment or something else then that would be another matter, and something you should bring with your manager to sort out.


Sorry you're experiencing this, but you're not alone in feeling this way. You can imagine that gossip is like seeing trash in the office. You can not add to it. You can avoid it, but at the end of the day, you still have to work in that environment. Some people can compartmentalize and ignore the trash, but others simply can't look away.

My advice is to look for a better culture either in a different group in your company or a new company. Gossip was a big problem for me at my last job to where I was gaining weight and having trouble sleeping. I switched to a new job and the culture is much better. Granted our office is total mess, but honestly that's an easier issue to deal with than toxic gossip.

You should think hard about what is a deal breaker for you in role, but remember you have multiple options.

  • The problem is how to know whether when you start a job that it is going to be as you expected. We can all look for a culture that fits us but if turns out that in reality it's different then I don't really what to do. – Ehouarn Perret Aug 25 '18 at 16:22
  • 1
    No culture will be perfect. It's all about the trade-offs of pros vs cons and what you personally are willing to accept. A thicker skin is good for all us, but it's important to realize when to choose to change yourself, change the culture or leave. – jcmack Aug 27 '18 at 20:13

Look at it very objectively.

In a group of people there'll be an assortment of characters and personalities.
The bigger the group, the more diverse it can become and the higher are chances that you won't get along with all (or they with you for that matter) and that you'll encounter (are required to work with) some really nasty individuals.

Stick with what you're there to do. Your work.
Stay out of gossip and don't take every uttered sentence on face value.
Don't speculate about intentions / meaning excessively (you're not a mind reader and not everything is always about you).

Don't presuppose malintent !

Everyone has bad days...

Nonetheless, have a natural awareness and intuition about your colleagues and the work climate but only act / react upon things directly impacting you negatively, be it your work or (to a lesser degree) your social standing in the company.
Only bring facts and obvious(hard to misinterpret) statements that have been said (ideally written) directly to you or about you / your work into discussions if they potentially undermine your ability to fulfill your professional duties, your authority (if any) or if they misrepresent you or your work.

If you're witnessing bullying or detrimental gossip concerning a colleague, try to console, support and prevent, especially if you're in a supervising position.
Encourage the colleague in question to take own steps and seek support from other colleagues, superiors and HR.

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