If there is one thing I can't tolerate, it's gossip. First of all, I find the private details of other people's lives really boring, so I don't want to hear about them. Second of all, no matter how you slice it, gossip is malicious. Gossip is rarely positive, and is almost always negative. People who gossip are usually the same people who tear other people down in order to build themselves up. So it is to their advantage to make other folks look bad --- and they do.
Every workplace has its share of gossips. They are usually the people who feel it is their duty to give office newcomers the "low down" on everyone else in the office -- especially if the newcomer happens to be a manager. The one consistency about the office gossip is they never tell the truth. Their smarmy little stories about other people are usually far removed from the truth, but how would the newcomer know that?
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, especially if the first impression has been tainted by someone else's poisonous mouth.
The only thing worse than a gossip is a stupid gossip -- someone who thinks they know everything, but in reality they live on the dark side of the moon. If a story doesn't sound plausible, or if they don't have all the facts, they embellish it. The gossip's credo is "Why make someone else look good when you can make them look really bad." Usually the victim of the malicious gossip is not even aware of it until the harm has been done. A very special friend of mine uses an expression that I really like -- "You can't unring a bell."
Most organizations are beginning to take office gossip seriously. It has become part of the respectful workplace initiatives, and I'm glad of it. I have seen gossip ruin people's careers. I'm watching this happen to a couple of my co-workers, and they walk around the office with their heads down, looking completely defeated. The best way to stop a gossip is to turn away and not listen. Cut them off and don't even give them a chance.