Anon13228- I agree with you. I just want to add that not giving in to office gossip and relating to co-workers in a respectful manner is best.
Most of the problems in a workplace involve gossip. If the coworkers know that you do not gossip, they will not tell you any of the juicy details but you will also never get caught up in office drama.
By simply offering a phrase such as, “I am sorry but I prefer to discuss Mary in her presence and feel a bit uncomfortable doing so with out her here.” Such a statement projects the value that you do not partake in office gossip, so coworkers will eventually appreciate that about you because they often view this stance as a form of loyalty.