It is a fact of life, and a basic part of human nature that “people will talk.” And not only will they talk about the weather, their meals and their daily lives, they will also talk about you – and everyone else in a 10 mile radius, most likely. While office gossip is not a pleasant fact of life, it is something that you will have to deal with as an administrative assistant if you work on-site. Furthermore, as a central figure in most communications chains, you will probably be in possession of a great deal of information that could add to the gossip chain.
However, as an administrative assistant, it is your responsibility to refrain from this type of behavior. If you do not, you will lose credibility and people who need to be able to trust you may not be able to do so anymore. It may not always be so easy, though. People who are gossiping tend to want others to do the same, and they may be unpleasant or “cool” toward you if you do not participate. So how can you handle office gossip in a way that does not ultimately make your working environment less pleasant or render you less effective as an administrator?
1. Set a precedent
From the very first day that you get to the office and begin working, refuse to participate in the gossiping. If people try to give you “the down-low” or “the scoop” on others, thank them for alerting you, but be clear that you are eager to meet the topic of conversation and believe that everything will be fine. When gossiping people are not encouraged with additional negative emotion and feedback, they often cease of their own accord and look for more “fun” elsewhere.
2. Be positive
If you feel you must listen to negatives, then respond with positives. Not only will this protect you in the future since you will not have said anything bad, but it will also make people trust you if you are never heard saying bad things about others even when everyone else is.
3. Stand apart
If you avoid office gossip, you may become the target of it. In order to avoid this type of response from influencing your work, try to remain friendly and professional without developing close ties to co-workers immediately. Otherwise, you will likely end up with your feelings hurt. This is not to say that you should not make friends in your office, but you should be careful not to alienate anyone in the process or become too invested in the friendship until you are clear on what type of co-worker they are and whether or not they will actually be a good friend to you.