Don’t Be So Paranoid! Your Co-Workers Aren’t Talking About You… Yet

August 9, 2012  |  

A new study published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes finds that paranoid people who think people are talking about them seek out evidence of this gossip. And guess what? You’re going to find it because when your co-workers see you acting crazy, they will talk about your craziness. Self-fulfilling!

“That is, people who try to ferret out workplace enemies are likely to create some that didn’t exist before, at least in part because their own eavesdropping, snooping and gossiping sets colleagues to talking about them,” summarizes TIME.

The best course of action, the study finds, is to chill out. Perhaps you think other people are talking about you because you love to talk about other people? And all that paranoid behavior could drive your co-workers away from you on a professional level, making it hard to work in groups and, therefore, hard to do your job. When your anxieties interfere with your work, you’ve got a serious problem. Just keep in mind, the sinister goings-on in your head likely have nothing to do with reality. People are too busy for all that.

If you happen to work with someone who’s under the impression that they’re the constant topic of conversation around the water cooler, they’re probably suffering from “spotlight effect,” the narcissistic feeling that the world is paying attention to what they’re doing. In that case, just go about your business and sooner or later, the paranoid party will (hopefully) figure out that no one cares one bit about what they’re up to.

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