You’ll never guess how much time a day we spend gossiping at work?

You'll never guess how much time a day we spend gossiping at work?

Talking about the good weather, about work but also about colleagues would take up a considerable amount of time every day around the coffee machine. But against all expectations, this behavior would not be that negative.

Have you gotten into the habit of meeting up with your colleagues at the coffee break to chat about this and that, but also to share some more or less juicy little gossip? You are not alone. In fact, according to a very serious study carried out in 2019 on this widely shared habit, we would even spend a considerable amount of time there, but without being as gossipy as one might imagine.

Nearly an hour a day spent “talking”

The analysis was thus carried out on five naturalistic observation studies which examined who chatted, and how, whether during break (coffee or lunch) or via online chats. All participants wore a recorder, and completed demographic and personality questionnaires. According to the results, we spend an average of 52 minutes on gossip, or almost an hour every day.

But this is not the only contribution of this study, which somewhat shatters beliefs on this subject: according to it, women engage in more neutral gossip than men, for example, and young people tend to gossip more than older people. Gossip in general tends to be neutral, rather than positive or negative, and primarily concerns social information. In short, “gossip” does not necessarily mean “backbiting”!

Gossip not as negative as you think

Thus, against all expectations, gossip, often perceived as harmful in the office, can actually enrich professional relationships, if it is used in a positive way (and not to criticize the company).

  • In a recent article from Forbespsychologist Mark Travers, indicates that gossip can be used strategically to promote one’s career, for example, when it speaks positively about the organization, the skills of your team;
  • They can also promote harmony in a team by encouraging cooperation, without formal intervention. “Gossip can be used as a driving force for vicarious learning. Research found that gossip made it easier to learn from others when direct observation was not possible. says Mark Travers;
  • Finally, positive gossip can also increase your influence within the company as revealed by another study published in 2023. A person who engages in positive gossip about their organization or their work is thus perceived as working to improve their organizational success. An argument to oppose if you are told that you talk a little too much during the coffee break!