In any firm discussion is healthy, gossip is slippery, and humor is appreciated. However, if communication degenerates into office politics, it diverts time away from what people are meant to be doing. People begin to question decisions and become consumed by hypothetical questions.
If certain people gossip endlessly rather than getting on with their work, warn them. If that fails, fire them. They not only waste their own time, they distract others. Most times, they'll be smart enough to take a hint and remember why you employed them. You could also try moving them to another room where there isn't such a willing audience. The only way to uncover disruptive traits in advance is to call their personal references about the applicant's attitudes before you take them on.
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