What workplace behavior rates as the most annoying and distressing?
Gossip comes up, again and again, as a central contributing factor to workplace toxicity.
Gossip is corrosive to workplace culture. It eats away at trust, undermines teamwork, and ultimately destroys morale. And in workplaces where gossip abounds, productivity declines because people are distracted by the drama, their attention diverted to conflict and to protecting and defending themselves from bad-mouthing and backbiting.
Why is gossip so pervasive? One reason is that, as odd as this sounds, people don’t always know they are gossiping. While some gossip is malicious, intended to harm or discredit the target, there is also unintended and inadvertent gossip—gossip that flies under the radar. People can gossip without being aware they are doing so. With the best of intentions, perhaps to help sort out a conflict or be supportive to a stressed-out colleague, people get drawn into gossip, inflaming a conflict and creating an even worse situation.