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gossip

It used to be that “trash talk” was just for sports figures, but as entrepreneur and former marketing exec Daron Pressley writes in a post for Black Enterprise, it’s moved from the basketball court to the offices of America. Why is this? The reasons are twofold. First, people are becoming more and more ambitious and focused on their careers, and with this comes increased competition. While this sometimes spurs super productive work and innovative ideas, it can also cause backstabbing and gossiping.

Technology is another key factor. In the old days, you’d stand near the water cooler to get the scoop on Susie in accounting or the company’s planned layoffs. Now, you just check your phone for texts or update your Twitter feed. In the digital age, gossip is more prevalent than ever, but luckily, Pressley has outlined three tips on “How to Avoid Gossip and Stay Productive on the Job.” Read on and find out how to navigate these treacherous professional waters.

1. Determine the Intentions — If someone comes to you with a bit of juicy company gossip, ask yourself what he or she is after. If this person is looking to vent frustrations, you might want to listen, and you should tell them you’re a receptive sounding board. If you feel this is mean-spirited gossip aimed at hurting a coworker, politely decline to listen and try to steer the individual toward someone else.

2. Use Strategic Positioning — In a literal sense, make sure you have this conversation someplace that other people aren’t likely to overhear. Then, Pressley writes, be sure to listen without choosing sides or putting yourself in a position where you’re joining this person in tackling whatever problem they’re facing. Ask if they’d like more advice, and offer to listen more, but leave it at that.

3. Don’t Dwell — Once whatever issue the gossip centers on has been resolved, Pressley writes, move on. If you dwell on it, you’ll only become part of the problem. In the event this gossip has trickled down to other┬ápeople — and these days, it often does — reach out to them and make sure they know the issue is dead, too.