Combating Gossip to Create a Healthy Work Environment

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“Do you know what I heard?” That phrase has been uttered a thousand times already today across workplaces around the world. Gossiping creates a culture that feels like the worst of junior high and can significantly impact the trust and cohesion of a workplace, even in a remote or hybrid work environment. When people gossip, they spread rumors and negative information about their coworkers or the company, which can ultimately erode the trust and respect essential for a healthy and productive work environment. So, how can you build trust as a leader and combat gossip in your workplace?

In this blog post, Sarah Ciavarri, an expert on trust-building, will guide you through the harmful effects of workplace gossip on team trust and provide practical solutions to address this issue.

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Three Negative Impacts of Gossip in the Workplace

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Facilitates team distrust: One of the primary negative impacts of gossip is that it creates a culture of distrust. When employees hear rumors or negative comments about their colleagues, it can make them feel insecure and question the loyalty of their coworkers. This can lead to a lack of collaboration and teamwork, as employees become guarded and hesitant to share information or ideas with others. The thought is, “Why won’t you gossip about me? Why won’t you talk in the same way about me?”

Creates individual isolation: Gossip can also cause employees to feel isolated and excluded. When rumors are spread about individuals or groups, it can create a sense of division within the workplace, with people aligning themselves with certain groups or individuals and ostracizing others. This maneuvering can be very subtle. This can make it difficult for employees to feel like they are part of a team, ultimately leading to a toxic work environment.

Negative impact on mental health: In addition, gossip impacts the mental health and well-being of employees. When people are the subject of negative rumors or gossip, it can be incredibly damaging to their self-esteem and lead to anxiety, depression, and isolation. This can impact their productivity and overall job satisfaction, which can have a ripple effect on the entire workplace.

How to Combat Negative Gossip and Create a More Positive Work Environment

Ultimately, gossip can be incredibly damaging to workplace trust and can impact the overall success of a business. To combat gossip and promote a healthy and collaborative work environment, employers can take a number of steps.
A man and a woman standing across the table from each other shaking hands while two men and a woman look at them smiling

Establish guidelines: First, they can establish clear guidelines around appropriate workplace behavior and communication and enforce consequences for those who engage in gossip or other negative behaviors.

Increase respect and inclusivity: Employers can also encourage open communication and positive interactions among employees. By promoting a culture of respect and inclusivity, employers can foster an environment in which employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas with one another, leading to greater collaboration and innovation.

Invest in your team: Additionally, employers can invest in training programs to help employees develop strong communication and conflict-resolution skills. Employers can reduce the likelihood of gossip and other negative behaviors by teaching employees how to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts in a healthy and constructive manner.

How to Build Trust as a Leader by Combating Gossip

In conclusion, gossip can significantly impact workplace trust and can ultimately lead to a toxic work environment. By promoting a culture of respect, inclusivity, and open communication, employers can help combat gossip and create a healthy and collaborative work environment that benefits everyone. By investing in the well-being of their employees and promoting positive behaviors and communication, employers can build a strong and successful workplace culture that drives the success of their business.

There are numerous healthier ways of interacting with people; therefore, there is no valid reason to return to junior high.

Headshot of Sarah Ciavarri
Sarah Ciavarri

Sarah Ciavarri, M.Div., PCC, CDTLF, Founder of Level Up Leadership, LLC, loves seeing leaders get excited about their lives and futures. As a certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator, trained in all of Dr. Brené Brown’s research, and a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation, Sarah is always seeking new adventures in helping leaders craft a life they love. For ten years, Sarah has traveled nationally, keynoting and facilitating workshops on resilience, vulnerability, and authenticity, and is a Chief Core Guide, DiSC, Motivator, and EQ trainer.  Sarah is the author of Find Our Way to Truth:  Seven Lies Leaders Believe and How to Let Them Go. And she got her afrave (afraid and brave at the exact same time) on this summer when she sang the National Anthem at a nationally televised Twins game!

Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn and at

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