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I joined my current company about a year ago. At the time, I was happy to get the job and did not mind the office culture even though a lot of the conversations seemed unprofessional to be had in an office, on working hours. I don't mind the occasional work rant which is nearly impossible to avoid or participate in, or even gossip although I try my hardest to not be involved in or contribute to.

The problem is, since recently, my team works mostly unsupervised and the occasional rant and gossip has become an every day type thing, where there appears to be something or someone to complain about or mock. It does not necessarily affect the work I do but it does affect how I feel about being in that office, I no longer look forward to my day. I try using headphones to muffle out the noise but I can't do that all the time, my job requires me to stay aware of my surroundings.

Can I say something about it to my team (perhaps to tone down the workplace negativity) or my supervisor as it is unprofessional behavior and it does affect the energy of the office and ultimately mine?

  • Don't think that this stuff isn't bugging you or affecting your work. Whether it be the quality of your work or the quantity, it is affected. You wouldn't be here if it wasn't. – Andieisme Oct 14 '16 at 5:30
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Just see this as a noise issue. Do not get involved in the rant.

Just ask them to be a bit more quiet as you are concentrating.

  • 2
    Amen. Unless you are their manager and can tell them to shaddup and get back to work, all you can do is pointedly refuse to participate. Politely but firmly tell them you aren't interested and would appreciate their taking it elsewhere. If they don't take the hint, headphones really are your best bet, with asking the manager to step on it a distant second. – keshlam Oct 14 '16 at 2:28
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My work used to be the same. We had a toxic director and gossip, banding together, and the like were some of the few ways we survived her idiocity. It was also one of the ways we caught her lies, which lead to her ultimate downfall.

Since her departure things have settled down, though we still have a few pot stirrers in our mix. I've taken it upon myself to give gentle nudges to more positive chatter when the rants and gossiping begin. Instead of "yeah, he was completely out of line and a real jerk for saying that" (even if I agree) I remind the person trying to vilify another that we are all human and can only improve if we're told we made a mistake.

We all have disagreements and misunderstandings. How we take action on the frustrations we feel towards others involved really make a difference in how our coworkers and managers see us.

I had to mediate between my boss and my coworker (who is now my employee). They had a few disagreements where each had a completely different take on what happened. One thought they deserved an apology because they were having family issues and the other person should have taken that into consideration before saying what they said. (I know, vague, but roll with me a little on this) Instead of saying this directly, they went to every member on our team and complained about the other person.

The other person thought there wasn't an issue at all and was shocked to find out how the other person felt about the situation. They were confused why the first person didn't talk to them. I reminded both that we have other things going on in our lives and that they were both reasonable people who shouldn't be afraid to talk to each other.

It took a few days but they finally talked and sorted thing out.

If you want a better work environment, help create it. Redirect to the positive when a coworker pulls out a dagger. Remind yourself that it will take time and it will be worth it.

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The problem is that it's an unsupervised team. I expect they feel safe in ranting and moaning because there's no one to hear and rein them in. Even if you managed to stop the negativity/ranting, then they'd easily find other things to gossip about.

If people are keeping up with their work, there's not much you can do about it except for ignoring it or using headphones when you want to concentrate.

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