What Can One Employee Do?
Like Ginger, whom we met at the beginning of the chapter, we get to choose how we respond to gossip, just as we choose our reactions to other ethical dilemmas. Reflect again on the order established in my Ethical Priority Compass: Ginger must take care of herself first, her company second, and her supervisor third. I recommended that she make every attempt to avoid conflict with the executive assistant who doesn’t like her, with the expectation that the problem will blow over. However, if it doesn’t happen soon, she is more than within her rights to go beyond her boss to the human resources department or another authority figure. If she must become the squeaky wheel to end this attack, so be it.
Here are the steps you can take should you find yourself in a similar situation:
1. Begin documenting what is going on, including dates, names, and verbatim recollections of conversations. “It is of utmost importance to summarize the conversations, including the one you had with your boss,” advises Valerie Weaver, CPS, Gulfport, Mississippi. “This is for your information only, and not for general circulation. Keep a copy for yourself and share one with your HR department contact when you apprise that person of your problem.”
2. Do nothing. This can certainly be difficult. However, if you take the bait, you are giving the gossip “legs,” and you’ll be playing catch-up with the latest version of the story. Be the bigger person and stay above and away from the chatter ...