Weekend Wanderer

Google Chat: The death of the office

This weekend ushered in a new era in our office. I call it “The Age of Gmail.”

Yes friends, we finally switched from the dark ages of Microsoft Outlook to a new world of sharing documents and calendars, and all sorts of other wizardry commonly known as “web-based mail.”

While I speak mostly in jest, I was surprised at the stir this changeover created amongst my coworkers. All day from the front desk I heard exclamations of pure confusion and anxiety from the backroom about how to run this new system. Seriously. What.

That, however, is beside the point. The real destruction that this new system will bring to our office is through the seemingly innocent chat feature. That function seems to confuse no one, in fact the office is all-too adept in this area. Not even 24 hours into the integration and already I’ve received office gossip via chat.

Herein lies the Trojan horse of Gmail.

Sure, it seems convenient(like when used to warn others of a boss on the warpath, á la my favorite movie), modern, and awesome, until someone uses it to write the things they were otherwise too ashamed and/or scared to speak aloud. I’m getting upset just thinking about it, so I better just move on to the proactive solutions in the unfortunate event that you also experience this downfall.

1. DON’T TAKE THE BAIT! I think that should be my only advice for this problem. It nicely cuts off the legs of gossip right at the waist, incapacitating it and thereby making said gossip impossible to spread (at least through you). In this little episode, I narrowly avoided being dragged into rumor mill grist by responding lightly and with exaggerated innocence. When in doubt, pretend you are a guileless, wide-eyed innocent who has no idea that anyone could harbor ill feelings toward another person…or that it never happened…denial usually works.

2. If you must vent, don’t do it at the office…or in written form. Remember that typed words are hard evidence against you, and can be used in a court of law(right?). If your coworker is really that bad that you need to blow off some steam, find a friend, a parent, heck even a grandparent, but preferably NOT someone in the same office. Or at least not while you are in said office, standing 50 feet away from the desk of your opponent.

3. Don’t be THAT guy(or girl). Here is a rule of thumb for a mature professionals: stay above water cooler gossip. Stirring up trouble only makes the office smaller and the days longer. It shows a certain smallness of mind, insecurity even, to pit coworkers against each other in a bid to prove you are right. After all, “the fool utters all his mind, while the wise man keeps silent.”

I hope this helps – It’s a jungle out there!


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