Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Page 6

If there is one thing that no girl can live without, it's her daily scoop of salacious gossip. Whether it's Hollywood's latest morsel on Kim K and Miley Cyrus's senseless yet profitable shenanigans, or something more personal and closer to home, we're all guilty of indulging in the juicy whisperings of somebody else's scandal.

For some us, it's purely innocent; another way of passing the time. Mindless banter designed to make conversation with our peers and colleagues all the more interesting and sometimes, tolerable. But for the few big baby bitches who run the relay of rumours as if their life depended on it, it's a completely different language. We call them the instigators of crap whose sole purpose in life is to make themselves feel better by undermining somebody else's misery and shortcomings. A smidgen of chatter under one's breath is certainly not a crime, but when the outcome starts to cause deliberate pain and humiliation, one has to ask: where do we draw the line? 

If you find yourself working a typical nine-to-five job, ten-to-one you'll probably find yourself positioned in some kind of open-plan office structure, or as I like to call it, the death of productivity. And just like any beehive, you're bound to have a queen or two that sits on her ass all day doing nothing but bark orders and laying eggs. They usually come with a swarm of busybodies waiting to serve her every need, as if she were God herself. Slowly but surely, the culture begins to spread, working its way down from one worker bee to the next, and no matter how much you try to avoid it, you're bound to entertain the latest buzz in some way or another. Is it only a matter of time before you become the victim to her repetitive sting or does the need to rule with hate simply come from some sad form of insecurity?

When Charlotte started her new job as a sales rep for one of the biggest pharmaceutical conglomerates in the country, she had no idea what kind of a hunting ground she was about to tread on. Not only was she the CEO's niece, a disadvantage that clearly caused rumours of nepotism, but she was also young, pretty and smart. The ideal candidate for the firm's clan of clacking cows that had nothing better to do than gab about anybody and everybody to anybody that would give them the time of day.

Most people just went along with it for fear of losing their jobs. They were after all senior management and to challenge them meant that you were clearly insubordinate. Day in and day out, Charlotte had to endure their menacing mumblings to the point where it actually began to affect her work. The swell of negativity spread far and wide and Charlotte noticed the impact it had on her peers, who would either engage and join the ranks of queen bee status or simply cower in a heap of insignificance. The latter would often find themselves playing victim to this heinous hierarchy and were often the subjects of their callous conversations, no matter how fabricated and far-fetched the rumours seemed to be. Charlotte couldn't stand for it any longer and began to feel the urge to punch someone repeatedly in the throat.

Instead of going Jerry Springer on her ass, Charlotte politely adopted the assertive approach and took the Queen of Bullshit aside for a private one-on-one, woman to woman. She confronted her about the horrible things she had been saying, warning her that if she did not adjust her conduct, she would have to lodge a formal complaint. "What I really wanted to say was, 'Congratulations on another joyful day of gossip, hypocrisy and judging people who are different than you'". While Charlotte may have borrowed the saying from one of those viral e-cards, her feelings about women who talk shit about each other were fiercely strong.

Judge Judy did not take the confrontation particularly well and stormed out of the boardroom in a huff. The next few days felt like high school where Charlotte had been constantly pressurised to meet her targets better and faster than humanly possible. They completely ignored her, snickered behind her back and even started a rumour about Charlotte sleeping with one of the international distributors at the annual end-of-year function. Regardless of whether the rumour had been true or not, what right did this bitch have to stick her nose where it clearly wasn't welcome. Just how insecure can one person be? Was she teased in high school and now making up for all that childhood ridicule or was she just a stone cold natural bitch?

"She's clearly in need of a hug and validation. How people like that get to the top and stay there is beyond me". Just as Charlotte was about to give up, an anonymous colleague decided to fight fire with fire. The CEO had received an email in the form of a voice note containing a conversation between five nameless women about how things would run much smoother if they were in charge. It continued to display gross misconduct that contained traces of racism, homophobia and downright mutiny. Because of her value and relationships with the clients at that company, the boss man decided to let her off with a warning. A skid mark on her seemingly perfect reputation. Charlotte & Co: 1. Gossip Girl: 0.  

When you run your mouth off like a motor on diesel, it's bound to land you in the fire. While some of us do our best not to engage in office politics and self-inflicted drama, sometimes it simply isn't possible. While gossip may form an integral part of the way in which we socialise with one another, we also need to learn the difference between saying something for shits and giggles, and demeaning someone's character. As women, we owe it to ourselves to conquer the gaggle of geese that make our work life so unbearable. While investing in a solid pair of headphones may help from time to time, it simply isn't enough to put an end to senseless and hateful chit chat.   

When it comes to trash-talk in the professional environment, I couldn't help but wonder, can women live on gossip alone?

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