I work in a small team of 5 members where all the other members except me are with the company since the very beginning (around 20 years). I have been here for the last 2 years.

Every once in a while, one senior developer will come to my desk and start gossiping about the manager. He does it when manager is not around. I don't want to listen to him but am afraid to say anything to him.

How can I tell him politely that I don't want to listen to it because it is not productive?

  • 2
    Change the subject immediately.
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 15:30
  • 1
    Get an "Optimism Gun"
    – enderland
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 16:00
  • 1
    Hi bugfixer and welcome to The Workplace! I've edited your question to better fit our format and hopefully get you more answers and upvotes. Please feel free to edit it further if I messed anything up or to improve it further. I hope to see you around! :) Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 16:22

3 Answers 3


A good strategy I use when you want to stop gossip is to defend the person being attacked.

For example: "Our boss just saddled me with a new project when I've already got a full plate!"

Response: "Yeah, but I bet the boss trusts you enough to give you this load. He knows your the expert and can finish the project the fastest."

Doing this over and over will make your coworker realize that you aren't the right person to vent to about your boss. Additionally, it will help you and your coworker empathize with the boss, since you are defending the boss' actions in his/her place.

  • 2
    If I was overworked and someone said that line to me, I tell you right now... I'd start wondering if the work culture is toxic. That line, is completely tone deaf in my opinion and it also demonstrates really poor listening skills. Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 17:19

How can I tell him politely that I don't want to listen to it because it is not productive ?

Next time he comes around and starts, just say something like: "Thanks for sharing your feelings, Bad-Mouthing Senior Colleague, I appreciate that. But I'd rather try and form my own opinions on Bad-Mouthed Project Manager."

Then turn back to your work.

This is polite, yet hints that this is not the sort of gossip you want to hear or participate in.


I'd change the subject immediately.

  1. "Hey, what are you doing to yourself this weekend? :)"

  2. "You caught me at a bad time. I got a deadline to meet, and my pants are on fire"

  3. "I am sorry, but I've got a call to make :)"

  4. "I am sorry, I need total concentration. I need to decide what I'm having for lunch :)"

  5. "I wish you'd stop talking about him. Because every time you do, I need to go to the restroom five minutes later :)"

  6. "Don't talk to me about him anymore - I am in avoidance maximization and pain minimization mode :)"

Or I could telling him off.

  1. I could choose to listen to what you say about him and go insane, and I could choose to stay sane - sort of :) I am picking option #2 :)

  2. "Yabut, I wish I could say I care, but I can't even fake it that I care :)"

  3. "Don't talk to me about it, I don't want to get depressed :)"

  4. "If you're going to talk to me about him, I want combat pay :)"

  5. "Look, if I sound totally uninterested, that's because I am :)"

  6. "Don't you have a bridge that you need to be jumping off from? :)"

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .