It is human nature to talk and talking is certainly not immune to the nursing profession. Gossip is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true.” Some talk to vent after a difficult interaction. Others talk to talk. What may seem like a harmless discussion can turn ugly and hurtful quickly. The question is, what side of the conversation do you want to be on?
Pause Before You Join In
It may be tempting to join in, but think before you do. Joining in makes you an active participant even if you have nothing to say. Gossip is not effective without an audience. The simple act of listening fuels the fire of gossip.
Pause Before You Speak
If you decide to join in, take a moment before you speak. What good will come from talking about a coworker? How would you feel if someone was talking about you? Choose any words carefully. If you do speak, try to turn the conversation in a positive direction.
Keep Your Personal Life Personal
Chances are if you hear someone talking openly, they will have plenty to say about you when you are not around. Save any private information for only your most trusted coworkers or even for home. A gossiper has little empathy for another’s troubles. Your difficulties give him or her more to talk about.
Be the Good Example
Set a good example in your unit. If you are in a situation where there is gossip going on, either avoid the conversation all together or find something positive to say. Think of the gossiper as a child that is behaving badly. Ignore the bad behavior and it will likely dissolve.
The best way to avoid gossip is by simply not being a part of the conversation in any way. Walk away. There are plenty of things that need to be done in the care of our patients that do not involve discussing the competence of the previous nurse.
None of us are immune to gossip. Gossip can be hurtful. Gossip is unnecessary. It lowers trust and morale in the workplace and can directly hinder teamwork. Gossip will always exist, however, each individual can do his or her part in stunting it simply by not participating.
Lori is an American nurse and yogini living in Gothenburg, Sweden. She contributes regularly to Mighty Nurse, AWHONN, American Nurse Today, and has been featured in The Huffington Post. Follow her adventures through her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.