Nearly 800,000 divorces are filed in the United States each year.
With that many separations, it might be hard to believe that office drama and gossip at work after divorce still exists.
Unfortunately, it can be a big problem, and it’s important to be able to handle it the right way.
Here’s How to Deal With Gossip at Work After Divorce
No matter what happened between you and your former spouse, it’s going to impact your work life. A divorce is a loss. It’s a major life transition. For many, it’s a process of grief. You have to be able to handle it a certain way while prioritizing your mental health in order to do your job correctly and move forward.
With that in mind, it’s okay to take a few days or even a few weeks off of work depending on how the split has impacted you. If you were a stay-at-home spouse or parent during your relationship and you’re returning to work for the first time in years, find a job that fits your income needs as well as your interests. In either scenario, expect that people might ask questions about your personal life. They might also make assumptions.
Going through a separation is hard enough on its own. Dealing with gossip at work after divorce can only make it worse. So, what can you do to deal with office chatter and put a stop to it?
Be Open and Honest
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your career when you’re going through a divorce (or just after) is to be open about it. Talk to your boss about what you’re going through. While you don’t need to get too personal, telling them the logistics of what’s happening is actually important for your career. Assure them that you’re dedicated to your job and you have every intention of staying on track with your work.
Because it’s a type of loss, it should be treated the same way in the workplace as a death or other major life transition. Your employer should make necessary accommodations for whatever you might need, including days off for court, or even mental health days that allow you to keep a stable work-life balance.
Once you’ve been upfront with your boss about your split, you can start to tell your fellow employees/co-workers. It’s up to you how personal you want to be, but hiding things tends to lead to more gossip.
Maintaining a Healthy Group Dynamic
No matter where you work, most offices have some kind of group dynamic. You’re going to have to interact with your co-workers on a daily basis, whether it’s to complete a project, bounce ideas off each other, or simply to make small talk. The group dynamic of a business plays a big part in how successful a company can be. Stronger group dynamics can even increase productivity and create a happier workplace.
It’s up to everyone to maintain a healthy group dynamic for the sake of the business. If you’re going through a divorce and it’s causing gossip around the office, one of the best things you can do is to stay committed to your job. If you show everyone that your current situation isn’t going to impact how well you do your job, the rumors and gossip will likely start to die down quickly.
Maintaining a healthy group dynamic also involves working with those in leadership positions. If you’re considered a leader within your business, make sure everyone is on the same page regarding how your team will work together. Don’t let your personal life impact your ability to lead your group and keep everything balanced. If you’re a part of the team, not in a leadership position, it’s okay to talk to your manager or the leader of your group about what’s going on.
Unfortunately, gossip could continue to happen, in which case you need to let HR know your concerns. Manager behavior has a big impact on whether people stay at their jobs. In fact, a report done by The Work Institute suggested that 11% of people leave their jobs because they aren’t happy with management. So, whether you’re a leader or you’re underneath the direction of a leader, everyone needs to work to keep each other happy and motivated. That means focusing on work at work, and letting personal issues stay at home.
Protecting Your Family and Your Career
People like to gossip, especially in an office where everyone knows each other. Gossip can be hurtful and can often encourage rumors that aren’t true. After a divorce, your focus needs to be on the needs of yourself, your family, and your future. So, don’t go back to work when you’re still feeling bitter. Instead, strive to be better than you were before. The stronger you are and the more you’re willing to do your job well, the faster your co-workers will stop gossiping.
Do what you need to do in order to protect yourself and your family, too. Divorce can be especially hard if there are kids involved. If you’re worried about some of the things your co-workers might be saying about you or your kids, and they’re getting information from your social media sites, put privacy settings in place on your computer to protect your children as much as possible.
Finally, start looking forward. Rumors and gossip at work during divorce tend to fade away over time, especially if you choose not to fuel them. By staying focused on your career, creating goals for your future, and choosing not to entertain drama at work, you can deal with gossip in a healthy way as you step into the next chapter of your life.