If you pay attention to sports, you know that a team’s coaches, players and management are always changing; as a result, speculation, questions, and rumors about team adjustments are constantly circulating. Who is going to be the new coach? Is management changing? Is the star player receiving better offers from other teams? As you start to think about making a career change and start to look for new employment, you may become the subject of similar questions. Where are you going? Are you being offered more at a different company? What was the final straw? How are your choices going to impact the rest of the team?

Speculation about the answers to these questions can form rumors that influence productivity, morale and your reputation if left unresolved. Instead of allowing your team to make assumptions about where you are taking your career, tackle rumors head on.


  1. Communicate: Divulging every detail about your career plan is unnecessary, especially if you aren’t certain of what your plan is yet. However, if rumors about you leaving the company are circulating, it is necessary to address them rather than ignoring what is being said about you around the office. Communicate with your team and assure them that when you choose to make a career move, you will be as transparent as possible and give adequate notice.


  1. Calm: Heightened emotional responses are common when handling rumors, especially ones that can damage your professional reputation. Since addressing rumors in an emotional and defensive nature is likely to end poorly, take time to plan what you would like to say and how you would like to say it. Taking this time will ensure that your demeanor remains calm, cool and collected.


  1. Clarify: A rumor is typically formed by taking an ounce of truth and manipulating the facts into a much larger, and possibly damaging, statement. Clarify areas of the rumor that are untrue to stop gossip that detracts from office productivity. Again, there is no need to go in depth as to what your future plans are, but it is helpful to dispel any damaging statements that are being made about you in order to protect your professional reputation.


  1. Consistency: If your career is the target of water cooler gossip, letting the quality of your work slip will only add fuel to rumors about you leaving or being unhappy in your current position. Consider if a lack of consistency has perpetuated any rumors that are going around about you and your future with the company.


  1. Commitment: As you are looking into new opportunities, applying for jobs and going on interviews, maintain a high level of commitment to your current company and team. Demonstrate this commitment by avoiding situations in which your job search will interfere with your workload.


  1. Caution: Be cautious in your conversations with others in the office. Disclosing too much to the wrong person can cause a rumor to start, as can venting to a coworker about not being satisfied with your current position. In addition to protecting your reputation, be cautious in your conversations with others so that you don’t personally perpetuate any rumors about your fellow team members.


The key to dealing with workplace rumors is to tackle them head on. Don’t shy away from talking to your coworkers about your plans and remember these six c’s of dealing with office gossip.