• marion@marionspeaks.com
  • 289 969 7691
  • marion@marionspeaks.com
  • 289 969 7691
Difficult peopleLeadership: Say it like a leaderResiliency & attitude

If they talk about others, they’ll talk about you too

By October 8, 2013 December 27th, 2019 No Comments

Does anyone in your work-life gossip or complain about others? If they’re trashing someone else, there could be several reasons.


We’re all human. Sometimes things will get under your skin. When they do, you need to blow off steam. Where it goes wrong, is when people chose the wrong person to listen. If you’re the lucky chosen one, consider yourself flattered. The complainer may think of you as a “safe place”, a trusted confidante, and actually that’s a compliment if that’s as far as it goes.


If, however, the person goes on and on, repeats again and again over the weeks, the months, perhaps the years, it’s too much. You listening to it feeds the complaining. If they’re complaining is about another person (and it always is), and they’re doing nothing about it, it’s your role to gently nudge them to action. Help them enunciate the challenge and then develop some possible solutions and plans of attack. Sometimes people complain because they don’t know what else to do, they feel powerless. Assisting them in creating options may empower them and shift them from complaining to creating.


When venting crosses the line to being malicious, nasty or untrue, that’s where boundaries are to be drawn. If venting is all they want to do, that’s what girlfriend and martinis or the guys and pizza are all about — not colleagues. If your colleague, client, employee or boss is complaining over the top, that’s different. Be there for support. Don’t be there to be their audience.  Even if you don’t respond or engage, sit there and say nothing, your silence is tacit approval. The person will continue to bash others and welcome you as a willing participant. Don’t play ball. Let them know that you don’t feel comfortable discussing this. Suggest they speak to an authority figure, someone who’s responsible for dealing with this type of complaint. Redirect their energies to something more productive, then run like the wind.

If you say nothing, this type of behavior becomes the norm. It helps to create your workplace environment. Is that a type of environment you want? If not, speaking up and not being part of the audience will help to curb the behavior.

And if that’s not enough reason to draw the line in the sand, think about this — if they talk about others, they’ll talk about you too. And dollars to donuts, what they say will be equally disparaging. You deserve more, and by creating boundaries, more is exactly what you’ll get. You create your own reality. Let it be a great one. 

Until next time, here’s to …
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author

©2019 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

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Communication consultant, author, professional speaker Marion Grobb Finkelstein teaches individuals and organizations across Canada how to improve morale, confidence and productivity by changing how they communicate. Chat with her at www.facebook.com/MarionSpeaks or www.linkedin.com/in/marionspeaks and sign up for her FREE “Marion’s Communication Tips” at www.MarionSpeaks.com


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