My boss talks about me to other employees. How many times have you laid awake at night, trying to figure out how to address this issue? It’s your boss, not a co-worker, so it requires a delicate approach. No matter how much you might love your job, you cannot allow your boss to gossip about you. It’s a form of harassment.
There are all sorts of ways for you to handle the issue so that you can be free of the gossip once and for all.
John F. Kennedy once said “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”
What are you waiting for? Learn how to take action.
1. Identify That You’re Dealing with a Bully
Many people assume that bullies are only people that you deal with as a kid. Unfortunately, this is not true. Whether you have addressed the gossip with your boss or not, you have to realize that they are a bully. As such, you have to be ready to communicate with them.
Communicating effectively is critical – and it can be beneficial for you to get a book that will provide you with tips on speaking well in the modern workplace (like this one from Vicki McLeod).
Ask to sit down with your boss to explain that you’ve heard him talking about you to others. Ask the boss why they’re doing it, how it makes you feel, and ask them to stop.
2. Shut the Gossip Down
Gossip has to be shut down, especially when the information is false or humiliating. As soon as you hear people talking about it, get in front of the issue.
Ask people where they heard it. Tell them that what they’re saying isn’t true. Ask them to stop talking about it immediately.
Remember that there is a difference between workplace banter and gossip. Often, gossip is meant to be harmful. It’s meant to help a person who is insecure feel better about themselves.
Be as matter-of-fact as you can to tell people that the gossip is hurting you. Shut it down so that they stop gossiping about you. Hopefully, they’ll think twice about gossiping about anyone inside of the office in the future, too.
3. Talk with the HR Department
The HR Department is in place to help to make the workplace a safe and friendly place to be. If your boss is creating a hostile work environment, you need to make someone aware of the situation.
Ask to sit down with someone in HR so that you can tell them all that is going on. They may be able to offer you some advice. They may also tell you what your options are to deal with it.
In many instances, a conversation with HR will get back to your boss. This means that you have to be prepared for such. It’s always better to go to HR after you’ve tried talking to your boss on your own.
Your boss may get written up. Again, HR is there to protect you. There should be no kind of retaliation against you. In the event that there is retaliation, it’s going to require another visit to HR.
4. Find Out How Far the Gossip is Traveling
Gossip can come in various forms. It may be rumors, false information, ridicule, or even leaks of confidential information. Listen to what’s being said about you.
Talk to random people in different departments. Try to walk around other departments to see if whispered conversations suddenly stop.
You may even want to push a piece of gossip to your boss to see how far it goes. If people from other departments are suddenly talking about it or asking you about it, you can confirm that your boss is doing the talking.
Once you know how far the gossip is traveling, you can decide if it’s a big enough issue to do something about it. Particularly if the gossip could impact your ability to move up within the company, you have to say something.
5. Keep a Record of Every Occasion
Buy a journal so that you can track every time the boss shares gossip about you. Stay as focused on the facts as you can. For example, cite the day and time, when it happened, and who the boss was speaking to.
Include as many details as possible about the kind of gossip that was being shared, too.
There may be more gossip happening than you realized.
Once you have it recorded, you can see just how frequently it’s happening. If it’s only once or twice a month, you have to decide if it’s really that important for you to deal with it. Is it something you can ignore?
If it’s happening once (or more) a week, it might be time to bring your journal to HR so that they can see all of your complaints in a very clear and concise manner.
6. Ask for a Department Change
If you love your job but can’t deal with your boss gossiping about you (whether what they’re saying is true or not), find out about opportunities within other departments.
You can keep your pay, your benefits, and everything else. The only thing you’d have to change is who you report to. It can be one of the easiest ways to get away from the person who is talking about you behind your back.
If you change departments, it can signal to HR that there’s a problem with the boss – especially if other people have asked to change departments recently, too.
7. Suggest Training for the Entire Department
You can recommend training that can be provided to everyone. Rather than calling your boss out when the boss talks about me to other employees, make a generic comment about how you’ve seen a number of people engaging in gossip. Talk about how you think that it’s bringing morale down.
Your boss may eagerly agree that some training can be beneficial for everyone.
You may even want to toss a book in their direction to help to get the coaching off to a good start. Try “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead.”
Once the training is over, you might see everyone being more respectful around the office.
8. Find Out When It’s Happening and Confront It Head-On
How is the gossip happening? Usually, every bully will choose a preferred method. It may be via social media, email, or even in person.
Find an inside source to learn more about when the gossip sessions are happening. Ask to be tagged, if at all possible.
If it’s happening in person, learn about when – lunch, at a meeting, or in the halls.
Be there when your boss starts to gossip about you. As soon as they see you, they should feel something, be it guilt or shame. With you there, they can’t gossip. Let them know that you don’t approve and move on.
9. Stop Sharing Any Personal Information
It’s hard to gossip if the person doesn’t have any new information about you. While you may think that your boss is your friend, they are clearly not respecting the boundaries of what you share.
Stop sharing anything that is personal. This way, your boss has nothing to talk about. They’ll either stop gossiping or move on to another topic. Either way, your name isn’t coming out of their mouth.
10. Don’t Participate
It can be easy to deal with the office gossip by partaking in your own. My boss talks about me to other employees so I’ll talk about them in the next meeting I go to. This is a bad idea – and it can only lead to even more problems.
If you hear gossip of any kind happening around you, whether it’s about you, your boss, or anyone else, don’t give in to the temptation to participate. Try to shut it down and move on to a different, more work-focused subject.
If you think your boss talks about me to other employees then you should show others that you aren’t interested in that kind of conversation, you may be able to encourage others to act more professionally while on the clock, too.
11. Explore New Job Opportunities
There are a lot of different jobs out there. If you love what you do but the gossip is getting to be too much, start polishing up your resume. Update your LinkedIn profile. Then, start to send out some inquiries to other companies in your area.
Once you get some interviews, let them know that you are looking for a change because of a personality clash with your current boss. By being upfront, you can be sure that you don’t have to worry about that same kind of drama at your next place of employment.
In the end, you don’t have to put up with the drama: My boss talks about me to other employees. You can choose to do something or say something. And if you don’t want to deal with the confrontation, you can simply choose to find a different job.
Work cultures vary from employer to employer. Don’t hesitate to find one that accepts you with open arms and shuts gossip down the moment that it is whispered near the water cooler.
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