How to avoid office gossip... and why

Nothing good is ever likely to come from involving yourself in office politics and gossip

Most people in the workplace have an agenda in one shape or form. Whether they are aiming for a promotion, attempting to win a big project or trying to impress the boss, many actions have an underlying purpose.

Office politics is the use of (often underhand) methods to gain advantage at work. People do this to achieve their goals, gain prestige, or seek greater influence, so that they can persuade others to share their viewpoint, access assistance or resources, or get ahead in their careers.

It can lead to healthy, professional networking and communication, but it is far more likely to cause power struggles, competition and alliance-making that will upset a given number of colleagues.

Professional credibility

Joss Collins, a specialist financial services recruiter at Venn Group, says: ‘It is really only you that can stop this from happening and the best advice would be not to enter any situations that could affect your professional credibility.

‘We all know what this potentially entails and, really, you want your colleagues to recognise your ability to carry out your role, rather than being tainted by negative gossip, which won’t do you any favours.

‘Word travels fast, particularly in a profession like accountancy, and I personally know of a few professionals who have been turned down for roles as a result of a negative image of them that had been passed from their previous employer.’

Keep your distance

It can be all too easy to get caught up in office tittle-tattle, but maintaining a level of distance and an air of professionalism is always advisable for ambitious trainees who aspire to rising through the accountancy ranks.

If you have questions about the professional conduct, processes or productivity of a colleague, it is almost always better to raise concerns with them directly, or in a group during scheduled meetings, rather than speculating behind their backs. By making your informed opinions publically known, you retain control of your position.

Antony Mason, senior consultant at Capita Professional Recruitment, explains: ‘Of course, you will build personal relationships with others in your team, but when it comes to discussing the personal circumstances of your colleagues, the old adage rings true, “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

‘Gossip spreads like wildfire and once you have been tagged as somebody who talks behind the backs of others, you can quickly and permanently lose the trust and respect of your co-workers.

‘Maybe it is inevitable that “office politics” will always be a challenge in the workplace. But while you may not be able to control the behaviour of others in your team, those who avoid speculation and get straight to the point will gain a reputation of being trustworthy, reliable and sincere.’


Although sometimes you may be caught up in office gossip, it is important to remain professional and try to avoid this as it may get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.

Karen Young, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, says: ‘Office gossip or politics can be distracting from work tasks and affect team morale, so it is always best to be enthusiastic, upbeat and avoid any of the gossip to be noticed for the right reasons. Be courteous and friendly, but use a professional manner or distance to navigate your way out of these type of situations.’

"While you may not be able to control the behaviour of others in your team, those who avoid speculation and get straight to the point will gain a reputation of being trustworthy, reliable and sincere"

Antony Mason - Capita Professional Recruitment