For starters, remember Mom’s advice: Keep your nose clean. Don’t get caught up in office gossip. If you’re smart you certainly won’t be the one starting it. But if it’s your manager(s) that is instigating it tread carefully. I was once caught in a situation where my manager made disparaging comments about a coworker of mine. While this person was not important to me, I was careful not to agree or disagree with the remarks. Tactfully change the topic of conversation to something more neutral.
One thing to think about though if you find yourself in this situation; be cognizant of your own words and deeds. If your manager can rip your coworker apart behind their back, they can do it to you as well.
Again, that’s a situation I found myself in. Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant, what they think is. Someone told me about a conversation between my managers where they discussed my personal affairs. Unfortunately, it was case where I heard it second-hand and was unable to address it directly with them. If I’d heard it myself I could have taken the bull by the horns. However, I couldn’t.
The only thing to really do in that situation is to be beyond reproach. Don’t give anyone any reason to give credence to the gossip they’re spreading. Do the job you were hired to do. Show up on time and work as hard as you know you can. Continue to produce the results as you were before and conduct yourself as professionally as possible. It may be killing you not saying anything, but the more you act contrary to their beliefs they *may* one day give it up.
Of course, that’s not what happened with me. But I was sure to watch my “P’s” and “Q’s”. I gave my managers nothing to go on, but they still came up with things that were pulled out of thin air. I only wish I knew what they were thinking.
I give this advice because I know there is the possibility of it succeeding in other work environments. Unfortunately, I make no guarantees. However, I maintain that my situation was unique. It is possible to play their game. I’ll get into the rules later.
Copyright 2006 Pied Piper Consulting