Having worked in an office environment for the last nine months I have come to realise that Gossip and Politics are some of the main building blocks of such an environment. Even though the ideal for any organisation is for staff to come in everyday and be at their utmost productivity on a mission to execute to the best of their ability individual tasks or duties, this is often distracted by the natural human socialising that takes place between individuals. The kind of personality that one possesses will most likely determine the kind of conversations one gets involved in and the kind of people with whom they get involved in those conversations. Working in an open plan office space can be very restricting for some personalities as one always has to be careful of what they say, how they say it and to whom they say it. In the same breathe, this kind of environment can be very ideal for some personalities as it is seen as the perfect platform to socialise with all different kinds of people. In both instances the outcome is most likely to have a negative impact on both the staff members and organisational wellness.
In instances where individuals feel restricted by the open plan office space, places like the smoking area, cafeteria, parking lot or the bathrooms etc. are seen as alternative platforms to socialise with those whom they see fit. Conversations held at these kinds of spaces are most likely to be honest and open and are based on observations made and how one feels about those observations. As individuals we are entitled to our own opinion, but one’s opinion does not always guarantee the same reaction from others around us. As the person who avoids offending others in the office by holding conversations in the smoking area with individuals they feel they can trust enough to be brutally honest, one runs the risk of being the office gossip. In many cases individuals who are willing to lend an ear no matter what the conversation, are the same individuals who find it hard to keep information to themselves. One is hurled towards trusting the next individual because of the amount of honesty and sincerity that individual displays when on the giving side of the conversation. With all of this considered, it is quite clear where gossip stems from and that it is a big part of the office environment because a lot of us do it without even realising it.
The open speaker or the individual who would rather voice their opinion in front of everyone in the office is often the instigator of office politics. For some of colleagues this individual is very entertaining whereas for some the individual is very irritating or distracting. This kind of individual almost divides the office into two groups opposing each other and as time goes on it becomes clear which staff member belongs to which group. The problem here is that it does not only end with how individuals feel about each other personally, but it goes on to affect professional decisions one makes or professional attitude and behaviour towards each other. This kind of situation ultimately leads to a very politically driven kind of environment where merit takes the backseat and individuals’ level of comfort in the workplace is dependent on the power of those to whom one is affiliated.
In essence I believe that the best way to get by in such an environment is to take everything that happens critically or be able to question the behaviours or gestures of others towards you. Empathy is a very important skill to have in an office environment because that way one is able to determine at your discretion whether or not you believe in the actions of the next person. The fact that we influence each other as beings is an indicator of how possible it is for one to lose touch with their true self simply because we all want to belong and be viewed as be viewed as interesting
BY: Zuko ZOOX Nomnganga
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