“Hey, did you hear about Jack in Sales? They’re saying he might get fired for stealing office
supplies”! If you’ve ever worked in a setting with colleagues you’re quite familiar with
provocations like these. Office gossip seems to invade your space at every turn. Whether in
email, chat, a private Slack channel or in hushed tones in a conference room, there seems to be no escape from the wildfire spreading down the grapevine. For Sikhs in the workplace, it may pose a difficult predicament. How do you stay engaged with your workmates, but stay true to your spiritual duty to not slander and gossip?
Three helpful tips to keep you from gossip
1. Identify if you are the gossiper
The next time you’re speaking about a colleague that’s not present, ask yourself, “would I say this to their face?”. If the answer is no, it’s probably gossip! And in the worst case, maybe slander too. A Sikh should always have the courage to express their viewpoint directly to that person in a professional manner.
2. Stop the gossip in its tracks
If you’re on the receiving end of gossip, try this simple trick. Ask the person doing the gossip or slander to say those things directly to their target’s face. Watch how quickly they recoil from the challenge and try to backtrack their comments. You’ll find that people will no longer seek you out to spread rumors.
3. Remove yourself from the conversation
If you simply can’t avoid the office gossip, just excuse yourself when it starts. There’s no shortage of emails sitting in your inbox, so say you’re busy and go focus on something productive and worthy of your time.
As Sikhs in the workplace, it’s imperative to remember why we don’t gossip or slander. We
believe that God resides in each and every person regardless of race, religion, status or
gender. When you gossip or slander others, you really do so about God. Each breath wasted in gossip is one you could’ve spent humbly serving others.
And as Sikhs, we should always take our guidance – personal and professional – from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Here’s what Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji has to say about gossip and slander:
ਨਿੰਦਉ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਾਹੂ ਬਾਤੈ ਏਹੁ ਖਸਮ ਕਾ ਕੀਆ ॥
Don’t indulge in slander for any reason, for everything is the creation of the Lord and Master. Ang 611
ਪਰ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਮੁਖ ਤੇ ਨਹੀ ਛੂਟੀ ਨਿਫਲ ਭਈ ਸਭ ਸੇਵਾ ॥੧॥
Your mouth has not stopped slandering and gossiping about others. Your seva (selfless service) is useless and fruitless. ||1|| Ang 1253
While there may never be a foolproof way to avoid every tidbit shared at the Keurig machine, as a Sikh you should make the effort to control your own words and set the standard for professionalism in the workplace.
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!