How to deal with catty workplace gossip?

I am a college age male about to graduate and enter a job at a BB bank in equity research. One thing that always scared me about the corporate world was character assassination through gossip. I've observed my peers in college and in past internships get their reputations trashed by chatty rivals who are adept at dragging something's reputation through the mud but in a socially acceptable way (ie. repeatedly bringing up embarrassing past incidents in a seemingly joking way, twisting the facts on a minor incident to make it seem worse than it was, etc).

As someone who is introverted and has unconventional hobbies/interests, I’m worried that I would be on the receiving end of this kind of behavior. I consider myself well-versed on professional etiquette and appearing sociable but I was once the subject of underhanded comments when I was competing for a leadership position in a high school club and lost the role as a result. 

How should I avoid and protect myself from gossip? Getting promotions in this industry is cutthroat and I’m worried that someone more suave and extroverted than me will try to undermine me in order to climb the corporate ladder.

Most Helpful

Unhelpfully, I would honestly advise you to ignore any & all possibility of it happening and focus on just being you. Especially as you get older, what other people think of you will be less and less important.

However, if this is genuinely a concern & a true risk, then the only thing I'd recommend would be to keep your private life private. Your hobbies are yours to enjoy anyway and if no one at your job shares them, there's little reason to talk about them. If prompted with "What did you do this weekend?" the answer "Saw some friends" should always be enough. If they pry further with "What did you guys do?", a simple "Ah not much" is usually sufficiently non commital / boring that most people drop it. In fact, if they insist even further, they're the ones being weird, and you could remark upon it to discourage them

I don't like having to do the above, and I wish just ignoring them / being yourself should be fine, but sometimes I understand that's not an option

Best of luck to you!


Ah, the old office gossip mill. It's a tricky one to navigate, isn't it? But don't worry, I've got some tips for you based on the most helpful WSO content.

  1. Avoid Participating in Gossip: This is the golden rule. If you don't want to be the subject of gossip, don't participate in it. If someone starts talking about a colleague, either excuse yourself or change the subject. It's the best practice.

  2. Maintain Professionalism: Always remember, you're there to work, not to make friends. Of course, it's great if you can form friendships, but your primary goal should be to do your job well. This will help you build a reputation as a reliable and professional individual.

  3. Don't Complain Publicly: If you're frustrated or upset, don't vent in the office. This can lead to you being seen as a negative person and can fuel gossip. Instead, find a private outlet for your frustrations.

  4. Be Confident: If you're confident in your abilities and your work, it's harder for others to undermine you. Don't let your introverted nature or unconventional hobbies make you feel inferior. Embrace them and let them make you stand out in a positive way.

  5. Build Strong Relationships: While you should avoid gossip, it's still important to build strong relationships with your colleagues. This can help you gain allies who will support you if someone tries to undermine you.

Remember, every office has its politics and gossip, but by staying professional, avoiding gossip, and building strong relationships, you can navigate it successfully. Good luck!

Sources: Professionalism 101 - Your Guide!,, Too much gossip

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

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