It’s pretty hard to avoid gossip these days. Social media churns it out minute by minute and even if you aren’t glued to your computer or mobile device; the news media picks it up and repackages it for you on air or in print. While some gossip is harmless, gossip can be toxic especially when it invades the work environment. Gossip can demoralize your team, affect productivity and eventually impact relationships with clients. So when gossip starts to rear its head at your spa or massage practice, you want to nip it in the bud.

To put a stop to gossip before it causes an unhealthy environment, here are some things you can do:

Set an example: Your influence on the behavior of your team cannot be overstated. Everything starts at the top so that’s why it’s important to set an example. Don’t indulge in gossip and if an employee wants to “dish” about someone else or share petty grievances, discourage it. You especially don’t want your team complaining or sharing personal information they learned about a client during a massage, for example. Maintain a high standard when it comes to discussing others and your team will get the message.

Hold a meeting:  As part of a team meeting, share your concerns about gossip in the workplace. Emphasize that you want open communication between team members and not complaints behind someone’s back. Also talk about the damage petty gossip can do to morale and relationships. You want everyone on your team to respect each other and that means encouraging directness if there is a problem.

Have a one-on-one: In some cases, you will need to have a one-on-one with someone on your team who is stirring the pot with gossip. Make it a private conversation, even going out for coffee if necessary to confront the individual to avoid drawing attention. Make it clear, the behavior can no longer be tolerated since it is having a negative impact on your spa or massage practice. You may want to address the consequences if the behavior continues.

Don’t tolerate bullies

Gossip isn’t the only behavior that can create problems in the workplace. Aggressive employees can intimidate others – especially subordinates – and create tension and stress. Aggressive managers also undermine productivity since employees will spend energy and emotion trying to deal with the situation rather than on their work.

If there is someone on your team who is bullying, talk to the individual. Possibly the person is going through a bad time. Some people also don’t know how to communicate with others so you might want to offer tips on how an employee can give another feedback without being negative or humiliating them. After that, monitor the situation, check in regularly with the individual and provide feedback.

Discourage self-aggrandizement

Some people feel a need to boost themselves above others. While this may stem from a lack of self-esteem, employees who boast, take credit for others work and diminish the achievements of others can demoralize your team.

At meetings, celebrate the achievements of your entire team. Cite examples of outstanding performance by every individual for their contributions to better client service, retail sales, marketing or streamlined operations. Hopefully the individual will get the message that your spa or massage practice values teamwork.

Your spa or massage practice will thrive through teamwork. Make that a constant message.