A reader writes:

I work in a small office of five people. One of my coworkers holds a manager position, and is sort of a supervisor for everyone. She was here before me and is above me technically. She is constantly bad-mouthing and gossiping to me about the other employees, from personal (sometimes very personal) information to performance issues/problems.

I really hate gossiping, especially in the workplace. I understand venting a little once in a while, but this is excessive. Besides, I do not trust this person at all; she’s had issues with everyone at some point, but especially me, and I can’t imagine what she says to others about me. I feel as though she is trying to get me to respond and say something negative about people. I try to shrug it off and change the subject, or defend the person while trying not to get on her bad side. It’s getting to the point where I need some different tactics to escape the conversation, without flat-out saying that I don’t wish to gossip. For at least the time being, I need to be civil with and try to stay on her good side. Any advice?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My assistant gives me too many gifts
  • I was hired to replace someone who doesn’t want to leave
  • I’m embarrassed by my coworker’s name
  • How can I ask an old manager who I’m out of touch with to be a reference?
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