A reader writes:
I need advice about a difficulty with my job: gossip. This is my own fault. I would like to say that I have been unwillingly sucked into gossiping/complaining with my coworkers about other coworkers. However, I am ashamed to admit that the truth is I have been a willing participant. But now I want out! Because my department is very small, I really risk my complaints getting back to one of my other co-workers, deeply hurting them, and damaging my reputation. I’m beginning to think that this is a silly question because the answer seems obvious – just stop participating, right? I have started to not say anything when my co-workers complain to me and just nod along. But, I would like to get to the point where no one includes me in their complaining/gossiping at all. What can I say or do to get myself out of this situation?
You can read my answer to 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 often updating/expanding my answers to them).