Coworker Spreading Rumors: 3 Ways to Handle Gossip

by / ⠀Career Advice / May 16, 2022
Is there a coworker spreading rumors about you in the office? Want to deal with them professionally? Here are three ways to do just that.

If you’ve ever been the victim of gossip at work, you know how painful it can be. It’s hard to focus on your tasks when you’re dealing with a coworker spreading rumors around the office. More than 90% of workplace talk is in the form of gossip so know that you’re not alone.

It can be tough when your colleagues start gossiping about you — it makes you feel isolated and can impact your professional and personal life.

In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons for these unfounded rumors flying around the office and three ways to deal with them. Hopefully, this will help you put an end to the drama and allow you to get back to work in peace.

7 Possible Reasons Your Coworker is Gossiping Behind Your Back

  • They’re jealous of your success and/or job title.
  • You have a reputation for being a good guy/girl, and they’re trying to destroy it.
  • The opposite genders find you attractive, and your colleagues feel threatened.
  • They think you’re a jerk.
  • They’re mad at you because you’re not doing something they want you to do.
  • You’re too quiet, and they want you to be more social.
  • You’ve been making them look bad lately by excelling in your career.

Dealing with a Coworker Spreading Rumors Behind Your Back: Three Practical Methods

1. Ignore them.

The best way to stop gossip at work is to ignore it. You can’t control what other people say about you, but you can control what you say about yourself. So if someone says negative things about you, don’t react. Don’t even acknowledge them when they do.

If they’re not talking to you, don’t talk to them either. When you think about the rumor, don’t let it bother you. Think about how ridiculous the rumor is and why you shouldn’t be bothered by it.

Remember not to give the rumor spreader any attention because that’s exactly what they want — to get a reaction out of you.

If you have to speak to them, act like you don’t care and try to minimize the conversation. If you have to discuss something with them, do so briefly and then get away from them as soon as possible. They are not that important to deserve too much of your time.

2. Talk to them.

Sometimes, ignoring the gossip isn’t possible. In those cases, it’s best to have a conversation with the person who is spreading the rumors. If you see the rumors coming from a specific coworker, try talking to them directly.

If the rumors are coming from a group of people, talk to the person who started them and ask them to stop. Doing this will show that you’re not afraid of them spreading lies about you.

We understand that you might feel like it’s not worth talking to your coworker. If they’ve been gossiping about you for a while now, it might be easier to just accept what they say and keep quiet. But don’t let them get away with spreading rumors without saying anything.

If you stay quiet, they’ll see your silence as a weakness. They’ll go another step further and will keep coming at you unless and until you put a stop to it.

So when you see someone spreading rumors, talk to them and tell them that it’s not okay. Tell them how all of this makes you feel and explain why you don’t think it’s fair for them to spread the rumors. Hopefully, they’ll stop.

Also, when you confront a coworker, try to avoid getting too personal.

It’s important to remember that you’re not talking to your friend. You’re talking to someone who is spreading rumors about you. Don’t make it personal. If you have to speak to the person, try to keep your tone and words professional.

3. Set an example that is above reproach.

Workplaces are no joke. There are policies in place to punish those who make the workplace environment toxic.

So if you’ve tried the tips mentioned above, but the perpetrator is not getting the clue how serious you are, it may be time to teach them a lesson.

You can report them to your manager or HR person. And if the manager himself is the one spreading rumors, go to the person above them. This way, they will (hopefully) face the risk of termination or at least a disciplinary action. If that doesn’t happen, it may be time to consider whether you wish to remain in a company with a toxic culture.

By setting this example, you’ll make it clear that you are not someone to be taken lightly, either by coworkers or management. But do remember to retain your composure at all times.

You Don’t Have to Suffer in Silence: Deal Swiftly with Office Gossipers

Whether you choose to ignore them or talk to them, one thing is for sure. Setting an example will always be the best way to deal with a coworker spreading rumors.

However, a good rule of thumb is to stay professional at all times and not retaliate in any negative way. You don’t have to stoop down to their level — always do things by the book.

About The Author


Taha Khan is a professional content writer by trade. He is a business administration graduate with a focus and interest in marketing and entrepreneurship. Khan has been working as a content writer for several years and has collaborated with 100+ businesses on their content marketing projects. When not writing, he is probably reading – mostly going through psychology and philosophy books. And when Khan is not reading, he is gaming on his PC – another hobby mostly associated with introverts.