Ask Online Dating U: Handling Gossip At Work

by Online Dating on September 14, 2011

Although we cover a variety of online dating and relationship tips, there are times when a situation is too unique for an umbrella topic. Or maybe we just haven’t covered something yet! That’s why we’re going to do an Ask Online Dating U every once in a while. At Online Dating University, we’re here for you, so send us your questions!

We are both recent grads in our early 20s at our first jobs. Our sysadmin has implied twice now that I’m dating another coworker, first via email and the second time it was public.

I actually did date this person at one point, but not currently. Sysadmin guy is newer to the company and has never known either of us before and would not know our history. I will refer to the guy I dated as Tom here.

The first time was when I needed to relocate to a better computer next to Tom. I had to clear this with sysadmin guy and he responded, “Sure, I know you just want to sit next to Tom because he’s so cute.” I was a little surprised and just tried to ignore it, figured he was just joking.

The second time was after I moved and was sitting next to Tom. I was handing him a printout about an upcoming meeting, and sysadmin guy suddenly says from across the room, “Oooh, I see you guys passing love notes over there.” I was too surprised to think of an appropriate comeback and just said, “No, just a memo,” and went back to work.

Now that sysadmin has made a comment in front of other coworkers I’m concerned that this teasing is going to start rumors and/or expose Tom and I as being previously involved. Tom and I have made serious effort to be professional and private. I’m confused as to why sysadmin guy is acting like this. He doesn’t pair anyone else up, kidding or not.

Should I just approach him in private asking him to please stop saying things that imply I have a relationship with Tom? I’m worried about whether my revealing that I have a problem with it will in some way make things worse, like he’ll assume that Tom and I are together after all, but I’d think that anyone would be bothered if someone made such comments in front of the entire department.

Work gossip is tough to deal with. In this case, it sounds like your sysadmin is teasing you a bit, and it’s upsetting you because it’s hitting on something that’s true. He could also be teasing you because he may be interested in you, or perhaps he’s just socially clueless.

You can approach your HR department about it, or simply tell the sysadmin that his comments make you uncomfortable. Hopefully that will stop them! If you feel comfortable with simply ignoring his comments, you could do that too, it’s up to you how you handle this. Obviously, if it gets out of control, go with the HR option.

Work gossip and comments like these can get out of control, so here are a few tips for dealing:

Keep it professional

Avoid dating coworkers and keep your private life out of the workplace — it’s easier said than done. Even if you’re discreet, things can sometimes be leaked into the workplace, and that just adds fuel to the gossip fire. Especially if your relationship doesn’t work out, many times you’re left with an awkward situation. Only you know what you can handle, so think things through before jumping into bed.

Don’t be the gossiper

Just staying out of the gossip is a huge step! If you simply ignore people gossiping, and don’t start any rumors yourself, you’re on the right track. Saying the wrong thing about someone could end up in the loss of your job or even a slander suit.

If you’re not part of the gossip, it may be a good idea to approach the person gossiping about others and remind them that they can damage their career and affect other people’s lives too.

Call in the cavalry

If things start getting out of hand, approach your supervisor or HR department about the gossip, even if it’s not about you. When someone’s quality of life and career is at risk, someone needs to speak up. No one should have to work in a hostile work environment.

Move on

If things have come to a head and there’s no fixing things, perhaps it’s time to find a new job. Some workplaces aren’t as effective at dealing with these situations as others. If you’re in a tough spot and staying there would make you uncomfortable, leave if you can. If the gossip wasn’t about you, but the toxic environment is affecting you, leave if you can.

[Image via Tumblr]


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  • Wmafreerelationship

    The best thing to do to stay away from gossip at work is to avoid unnecessary acts to avoid showing motives, to avoid misunderstood actions, don’t be so close in your opposite co-workers and avoid talking things that are non work related.

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