The Dangers of Office Gossip and How to Avoid It

Office gossip is cited by employees as the biggest problem in the workplace, a new survey finds.
5:31 | 07/27/15

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Transcript for The Dangers of Office Gossip and How to Avoid It
Okay, Kate Coyne, thank you. Up next on the "Gma heat index." Gossiping in the work place. You know you shouldn't do it. You don't want anyone doing it behind your back. A new survey reveals how toxic it can be. Who did you tell? I didn't tell anyone. Reporter: If "The office" taught us anything -- Who has been saying there's another person inside of me? Reporter: It's no one likes a gossip. Has everyone heard a yaz zi rumor about themselves today? Reporter: Rumor has it that office gossip is against the water cooler code. It's a toxic experience. It makes it very challenging to feel safe and comfort B at your work place. Reporter: One online unscientific survey by account temps reported that 28% of the 320 workers questioned found it to be the most common breach of work place etiquette. Another unscientific survey found that office gossip was the second biggest work place distraction coming in right under cell phones and taking. Sflit can be exciting. It can distract us from the mundane, boring thing that we're doing at work. We use gossip as a power play within career. Reporter: But some experts say, a little office drama is not all bad. According to appear-reviewed study published in psychology science, gossip can have positive effects. Including encouraging cooperation. For "Good morning America," kayna Whitworth, ABC news, los Angeles. Tory Johnson joins us now. I know obviously, your work family. You want to talk about what's going on in your life, other people's lives. When diz uh does it cross the line? There's a simple litmus test. Is what you're about to say or share or listen to, is it harmful to somebody else? Sit destruct nif character? Is it something you would never ever say directly to the person you're taking about? I would say if it something you would potentially deny if ever asked if you said it or participate D in it? Then I would say it's not the health vi gossip. My mom said, if cow can't say I had to their face, don't say I behind their back. A good golden rule. What do you do when someone starts gossiping to you about someone else. Kit be uncomfortable. There's a few options. The first is, call them on it. Right? So it's very clearly. Really? Clearly saying, that's harmful gossip. I don't want a part of it. It takes a big level of comfort. Not everybody is comfortable policing other people. There are other options if that is too harsh. Step away from the situation. Don't give an audience to somebody who is gossiping. By listening, you're an active participant. Step away from that conversat conversation. The other is to turn a negative into a positive. You can take control. Somebody says to you, oh, many I gosh, you know, Jane is such a suck up to the boosz. It's so clear that they're having an affair. You're like, yikes. Right. And so to that, you say, I actually really like Jane. I respect her work. I like that. That totally takes the high road when somebody's gone low. How do you handle, if the gossip you hear sabt you? When you know people are talking about you behind your back. We have all been there. What do you do? First, if it's untrue, petty, laughable, something you can dismis, don't add fuel the fire. Let it go. Let it die down. It will disappear. People will realize they're not getting a rise out of you. It's hard to do, too. It's very hard to do. If it is true, there's a couple of different tactics. One of them is address it directly. So, you know, I know that I was caught on an informational interview with the competition. Everybody is saying, she's not happy here. I bet she's going the leave. I need to nip the gossip. I might say to somebody, you know what? There's a lot of gossip about my employment. I want you to know I'm really committed to this position. And if and when that changes, you're going to be the first to know. And so simply by addressing it and nipping it, you're not lying. You're nipping it. It has a chance to die down. The other option is, if it's something being said about you that is true but too personal and difficult for you to talk about. Maybe a situation where I'm going 24ru a twors. Someone has discovered that. Maybe I enlist the help of a trusted colleague to say, she knows everybody is talking about her. She is going through this painful divorce. Let's not make it more distracting with the gossip. She's our colleague. She deserves our respect of her privacy. Let's give to it her. Great tips. Enlisting. Having an advocate. I'm not going through a divorce, by the way. I'm very happily married. I hope my husband is not going anywhere. Th Duly noted. Lara, to you. Great advice there. I love just taking the high

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