The water cooler can be a dangerous and frightful place. It is even more dangerous because we don’t think of it as a dangerous place. Well, in today’s world, it is dangerous because it can be a playground for gossip. We often don’t recognize that simply listening to others gossip makes it appear that we agree with what is being said. Anything that you speak will be repeated. The repetition will always be back to the person that you were talking about. Before the words flow out of your mouth, think about whether or not you would say those words directly to the person that you are speaking about. If you would not say the words direct to the person you are speaking of, then the words are better left unsaid.
If you disapprove of something someone said or did, it is always best to take it directly to the person and speak with them personally. The wrong way to handle this would be: leaving a voice mail, emailing them, or discussing it with anyone other than directly to the person.
Few recognize that silently listening is silently agreeing with all you hear. If you are listening to someone say that one of your VPs is _____ (insert word of choice) , then you are silently agreeing, even if she/he got you your job. You have two choices if you don’t agree. You can comment on what you think about her/his skill-set in a positive way, or you could say, “I have to get back to work,” and exit the scene.
You must make a decision. Do you want to remain in your current position and pay level, or do you want to move up to the next level? Participating in gossip and inefficient water cooler chatter about non-work stuff for extended time periods can limit your upward mobility. You either reflect that you are an efficient, busy and effective worker, or you look like you have loose lips and too much time on your hands. Choose wisely.
by Bethany Williams