Office Traps – Gossip versus Small Talk versus Networking

August 12, 2009

I haven’t been working long, but I know that office people love to talk.  They love it!  If people think that you’ll listen to them, eventually they’ll tell you a lot of things.  Some of these things they may regret telling you later and some you may wish that you hadn’t heard.  I think that though it may be tough to avoid being the ‘hearer’, it’s a pretty straight forward job to avoid being the ‘talker’.  Easier said than done, I know I’ve definately been guilty of it.

I think the line lies between gossiping, small talk and networking.  Check out this picture I stole from this blog.

gossip Is what you’re saying worthwhile?  Is it value adding?  Is there an actual point to the discussion?

Then I wouldn’t call it  ‘networking’.

Is what you’re saying based on little fact?  Is it malicious?  Would you say it to your boss?  Your other colleagues?

Then I wouldn’t call it ‘small-talk’.

I don’t think you want to be answering no to any of these and then try and kid yourself that you’re engaging anything other than some form of gossip.  You may not even need to ask yourself these pretty vague questions.  Generally people realise that their gossiping, but sometimes it comes down to what I was talking about at the beginning (people just love to talk !)

Each of these three ‘methods’ are a huge topic.  I suppose I’ll address them individually in the future.  Generally I think it’s better to tend on the side of silence and not give these office gossips any more ammunition than they have already.  You never know when you may become the next victim!

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2 Responses to “Office Traps – Gossip versus Small Talk versus Networking”

  1. Don Gabor said

    You might be tempted and it may even be well-deserved, but never get involved in a gossip or gripe session about a colleague or client. As obvious as this blunder is, people seem to do it all the time, especially after work and after a few drinks. Even if you’re not the one making the crass remarks, if word gets back to the “offending person” you will still pay the price long after the bashing session. If possible, politely excuse yourself from the conversation as quickly as possible. However, if you find yourself stuck with this group, then take the initiative and bring up something that moves the discussion to a more positive topic.

    Don Gabor, author of Turn Small Talk into Big Deals

  2. I liked your blog. I am always asking myself all of those questions when at a networking event. It is very hard to stay in the guidelines. But I have decided that it is very easy to listen… And people seem to like you better when you listen, so that is my new strategy.

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