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Steer Clear of Office Gossip

Dissing the boss won't get you ahead in the workplace

Q.  I recently started working at a small company. It’s taking me a while to catch on to the procedures at the office and I am hard on myself when I make mistakes. My coworkers have been helpful and encouraging when I ask questions or to check my work for accuracy. 

The problem is that they all share stories and opinions about the boss that are not so favorable. They also count down until the end of the day or week. I am grateful to have a job after being unemployed for almost two years. 

While I want to fit in with my co-workers, I don’t want to take on their negativity. I’m also afraid that if I am too upbeat and don’t participate in the office gossip, they will think I am kissing up to the boss and they may not be so helpful. Any advice?

A.  Congratulations for landing a job in this tough economy. You obviously exhibited the necessary qualifications for the position. Recognize that it takes time to learn new procedures, so give yourself a break.

While you understandably want to fit in with your peers at work, your boss is the one who pays you. If the others gripe or gossip, smile and stay focused on the tasks you are assigned. You might even try sharing about what it was like to be unemployed and your appreciation for being back to work. Your co-workers might be taking their jobs for granted and would benefit from hearing about the alternative. 

If your co-workers show resentment and become unwilling to help you, ask your boss to show you the ropes. This is not kissing up. Your supervisor may be aware of the attitudes of the others and welcome your enthusiasm. Your willingness to learn and grow could benefit you in the long run. Hang in there.

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