Debbie downers targeted for office gossip

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We all know the office worrier. “Are they talking about me?” they ask at lunch. “What do they say?” Well, new evidence shows that those who worry most about workplace rejection or sabotage could be bringing it on themselves.

Those who worry the most are most likely to bother other people by asking about how other people feel about them and what is said behind their back. Driven by paranoia, these actions backfire and cause workers to be the victim of the exact behavior they fear.

 “It may be best to ignore impulses that tell you that you’re the victim of office politics,” lead author Karl Aquino said.

It’s natural for people to wonder how others view them, especially when social acceptance in the workplace is often rewarded with power and financial compensation, he added.

“However, our research shows employees should do their best to keep their interactions positive and ignore the negative. As the expression goes, kill them with kindness,” Aquino said

In experiments at the Sauder School of Business, researchers found that people who more readily interpret interactions with others as negative are also more likely to try to root it out through such means as eavesdropping or spying. Co-workers were 3.5 times more likely to choose to work with people who sought feedback about work quality, rather than asking about unfair treatment.

Participants were 16.5 times more likely to prefer working with others keen to get information on work group dynamics as a whole.

If you have a nervous Nancy in your office it might be time to send them this study and let them know the best way to help themselves might be to stop worrying so much.


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