Let's face it, work would be pretty dull without a bit of banter, but before you spill all, make sure you know the pros and cons of those workplace whispers.
A chat over the water cooler can keep us alert and positive. You can get support if you feel you're under pressure, share weekend experiences and family news, and even find out about job vacancies or the Company's future plans.
Canteens and coffee breaks are great places to keep up with the comings and goings of work and colleagues, and there is nothing better than a good Christmas party to dust off those cobwebs and reconnect with fellow employees.
However, there's a difference between a healthy interest and guilty gossip, and with the introduction of social networking the line is stretched even thinner than ever. Knowing who can and can't be trusted is a difficult call to make. Make it wrong and you could find yourself in hot water. If you have to hesitate, or look behind you, before making a comment, chances are you probably shouldn't be making it.
The first rule of office gossip – the boss will always find out where it came from. What's more, loose lips could cause other people hurt or distress, particularly as the workplace is notorious for 'Chinese whispers', resulting in serious distortion of the truth.
Similarly, there are an increasing number of P45's being despatched as a result of reckless use of social networking sites. A recent tribunal ruled against an unfair dismissal claim even though the employee in question had made no direct reference to his employer Company. The fact that he had publicly parodied their high profile advertising slogan in a derogatory fashion was enough to deem them identifiable. The (extremely large) Company in question had 'social media guidelines' written into its terms and conditions of employment which allowed for instant dismissal, and these conditions are increasingly being written into T&C's and Contracts of Employment as standard, as social networking proves to be a major form of communication. And yes, there are privacy settings which you would THINK would keep you safe, but with the average number of 'friends' at around one hundred per person, do you really know who can get access? A friend of a friend of a friend can so easily navigate through these settings.
So before you find yourself drawn into a conversation about a work colleague, put yourself in their shoes. And before you share your caustic 'status' with the world - however witty it may seem - run this simple check... if you wouldn’t say it to their face, it's probably best left unsaid.