“Have you heard…?”

Many of us spend 40+ hours a week with our co-workers, and all that together-time leads to a type of familiarity that may occasionally blur the line between what is and what is not appropriate for the workplace.

Enter gossip—that is, a casual conversation typically involving details about the lives of other people that may or may not be true. Unfortunately, gossip is part of almost every workplace, alienating co-workers, causing hurt feelings, and reducing productivity.

Here at Masiello Employment, we think it’s vital to avoid these types of destructive conversations about co-workers—so we created a Gossip Edition of Do’s and Don’t-You-Dares.

Do… focus on the job at hand. A rolling stone gathers no moss, and it gathers no gossip either, so keep busy and the source of workplace gossip won’t be able to share the latest with you.

Don’t-You-Dare… repeat gossip. Despite your best intentions, you might find yourself on the receiving end of gossip (or you might have inadvertently overheard it)—keep it to yourself.

Do… ignore the source of workplace gossip. He or she is looking for an audience, so actively ignore this person’s attempts to spread gossip by changing the topic or coming up with an excuse to get away.

Don’t-You-Dare… react to the news. If the source of workplace gossip shares with you, remember that he or she is doing so for the pleasure of your reaction, so keep a straight face and withhold comments.

Don’t-You-Dare… get sucked into saying something negative. It’s a slippery slope between getting gossip and participating in it, so be careful to say only positive things about your co-workers and company.

Do… involve management. Look to your supervisor to minimize gossip and reprimand those responsible for it. If needed, lead the charge to establish a company policy against gossip.

Don’t-You-Dare… gossip about co-workers outside of work. Far from the water cooler, at lunch or via text, you might think it’s okay to gossip with co-workers, but the things you say can and will travel back to the workplace.

Do… speak up if you’re the target of gossip. You certainly don’t want to take gossip to heart, but it’s hard not to have an emotional response. Stay calm and work directly with your supervisors and Human Resources to address the problem.

Mind our advice, and enjoy a gossip-free workplace.