Are you listening to the water cooler discussions? Office Gossip

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    Office Gossip: Are you listening to the water cooler discussions?

    Office gossip is a term recognized by many. Just hearing this term will most likely result in recollections of conversations you have had or overheard at work. It may even bring a picture of the “known office gossip” into your mind’s eye. While there is debate as to whether office gossip is all bad, if you are listening to it and taking action on what is heard, you may just be well ahead of the game. During a keynote address during the ASTD ALC conference this past weekend, Anne Bruce made the following statement.

    “Gossip is a symptom of unmet needs and expectations.”

    If you consider for just a moment the topic of office gossip conversations, it may become very apparent to you that no one whispers around the water cooler about things that went well or met their expectations. Instead, employees seek out trusted colleagues who may share their viewpoint or their frustrations. Often it is only with these colleagues that employees feel safe enough to give their true feedback.

    As HR professionals you need to become a trusted colleague for employees. Doing so will help you find the cause of the problem so you can treat more than the symptom. As any good doctor or HR professional should know, treating just the symptom will not cure the disease.

    What have you tried in your organization to be more trusted? Your comments are always encouraged.

    For more resources, See the Human Resources library.

    Sheri Mazurek is a training and human resource professional with over 16 years of management experience, and is skilled in all areas of employee management and human resource functions, with a specialty in learning and development. She is available to help you with your Human Resources and Training needs on a contract basis. For more information send an email to or visit