18 Apr Office Gossip: The Drama You Don’t Want
”Gossip is so tasty. How we love to swallow it” (Proverbs 18:8). I didn’t come up with that. Someone smarter than me did and that person was damn right. Now everyone who knows me knows that I am an unapologetic lover of gists. I love to be told stories about anything. Whether it is about the happenings in the life of my friends or the happenings in the life of anyone they know that i may not even know. Whatever! just bring it on and you’ll have me clinging to you. However, there’s one type of gist that I can’t understand and that one leaves me uncomfortable as hell. You know the type? Well, it’s the type that comes from the office about someone else and spoken from a place of ill. Sometimes, I am torn between killing the person’s vibes by pursuing the person away and saying ‘I am sorry I don’t like this. Stop telling me about dash dash dash’. (You know, that’s how they always tell us to do in Sunday school) or just listening to the thing politely and saying nothing. Sometimes, to be honest, I like the gist and it’s not because I like the fact that they are talking about someone. Nope! Sometimes it’s just in the way the story bringer adds all the salt, pepper and spices and the general style of storytelling that intrigues me. Some folks can leave the most uninterested person interested. Wait till you meet a professional.
Okay, so I just succeeded in making excuses right? I know. It’s a real struggle.
Some time ago, I worked in an office where everyone was amazing with their jobs so this wasn’t a case of people who were idle, unproductive loafers gossiping simply because they didn’t have anything else to do. Nah! It wasn’t the case at all. People here were excellent and had A LOT! to do but still made out time to gossip. Like even for 10 seconds. They would do a quick whisper, an eye signal, a body language, just anything! These folks had the time for it and it was like people had something to say about the next person. At first, it was just me looking at the drama and wondering but you know how the devil doesn’t like spectators. With him, all hands must be on deck! Before I could say jack! My own office had turned into ‘the centre’. One by one, they would come at different times to report. Somewhere in my head, I thought ‘Well, what’s my business, I’ll just let them talk na and when they are tired they would realize that it’s not my thing and would leave’. I was wrong! My boss later joined and started coming to report my colleagues to me. In all of these, I was worn out emotionally because I started knowing things about people I shouldn’t know. I began to link stories told together. Some people’s stories corroborated the others about a certain person or people without them even knowing as they were reporting at different times. The funny thing was that some of those whose stories corroborated each other weren’t even on the same ‘team’ (LOL!).
Little by little, I began to apportion blames to certain people who I came to see as the cause of the issues, started judging them and it started changing my opinion of them so much that when they even come with their report I would unknowingly blame them while they struggled to explain to me and clear the air. Afterward, I would feel sorry again for them and pass the blame to another. I was really losing my sense of good judgment. Slowly but surely, I became privy to all their information and started making contributions. Before I knew what was going on, I was sucked into that dirty web of office gossip. Everyone seemed to be at war with each other while I just had the role of listening to the stories flying up and down. You may think it’s a good role or a good place to be because you think you are indifferent but you are really not. It was energy sapping. It didn’t take long before the Holy Spirit called my attention to it. It was taking a huge toll on my spiritual energy. I became aware that you can’t really be indifferent in this game at all. You are either in or out. You can’t be in the middle. So one day, I prayed. I prayed for God to get me out of the mess I had gotten myself into. I prayed for God to teach me how to deal with the situation. So this was what I did.
I got out my prayer journal and wrote out the names of all my colleagues. Underneath their names, I wrote out their style of gossiping and from there I could trace the pattern of my compromise. So once I could figure out each person’s gossip style, I knew how best to dodge it. So for example, if a person’s tactic is that they would usually bring a file to me and ask me to help with it and while I am trying to do it, they would settle down and begin to gist and from gisting begin to open the office matter. To cut this person off and the chance of gossiping, I would when the file comes in say ‘Hey, omg I am actually like trying to do a few things. Just leave it and I’ll come to your office and give you when I am done’ or I say after the warm greetings and happy small talk ‘I am coming to your office. Give me a while’ and I’ll just zoom off to anywhere I can think of. Now, this may sound like running away instead of facing the gossip and telling the person off but hey! People differ and I am not the type who would choose a stronger method and that’s not because I am not bold but I would rather choose a softer approach where I can help it and that time I could.
I wouldn’t say it worked all the time but as I stayed on this method and continued to talk to God each day about these office issues that bothered me, I could see that even in times where I couldn’t dodge, I was less inclined to contribute. I would only listen and just tell them it would be okay and make the subject about them and the real issues that concerned them instead. Many of which I knew. In the end, I thankfully left the job.
Now, you may not leave your job maybe because you do like the job or you are just newly employed but you can learn from day one that no one can really be passive. No. Understand that you are a human being and that if you do not apply caution even as a Christian, you could be trapped in the web of office gossip whether it is as a contributor or a treasurer of information. No wonder the word of God instructs that we take heed lest we fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). It requires a firm decision to stay conscious and protective of our salvation and character.