Much like family, coworkers are people we don’t choose to be in our lives, but whom we must learn to live with anyway, for better or for worse.
Sometimes coworkers are great — they’re the people who see us through the stressful times at work, the people who can relate when we complain about our boss, and the people who make us laugh when we’re taking a break at midday. But other times, coworkers seem bent on making our lives miserable, or at least on spreading all the gossip about us to the far corners of the office.
It can be hard to stay out of coworker drama when you don’t want to be involved. Should you avoid the office drama queen altogether? Try to defend yourself? Just do your best to ignore the flying gossip? Read on to find out.
1. Prevention is better than repair. Try to stay friendly with everyone in the office, even if they’re difficult to be around. That doesn’t mean you have to be best friends, but say hi and offer a smile when you see your coworkers. These simple gestures can go a long way toward keeping people on your good side.
2. Be direct rather than sneaky. If you hear that a coworker is trashing you to other coworkers or to your boss, don’t trash them right back. Instead, go to your coworker and ask them what’s going on. It’s not easy, but you may discover hurt feelings you were unaware of having caused or some other issue that surprises you. By taking it to the source, you can deal with the problem and get it done with.
3. Look forward, not back. It can be hard to fight the urge to hash out who said what and who was right or wrong in a dispute, but often this just escalates a problem. Instead, tell your coworker that you’d like to put the problem behind you and figure out how you can get along better from now on. Wanting to prove that you were right will only deepen the trenches between you.
4. Talk to your boss if the problem continues. Again, resist the urge to prove that you were right and your coworker wrong, as this makes you look immature. The goal of talking to your boss should be to reduce damage your coworker has done in his or her eyes. If your coworker is spreading rumors that you didn’t pull your weight on a recent project, for instance, and you know you did, explain to your boss calmly that you feel the accusation is unfair, and answer any questions he or she asks. Again, don’t attack your coworker back, or you’ll pull yourself down to that level.
5. Remember that others can see what you see. If a coworker is spreading rumors about you, chances are good that he or she is spreading rumors about other people too. Others will see that this person is a gossip and will take these rumors with a grain of salt. Stay friendly to everyone on staff, keep doing good work, and you and your coworker will both develop the reputations you deserve. About the Author:Emily Williams writes about workplace training and certification for ETrain Today.