I spend a lot of time ringing the bell about gossip and how it poisons a workplace. But sometimes I wonder if the word gets in the way. When some people hear the word “gossip,” they picture a gum-chewing secretary with cat’s-eye glasses, filing her nails as she shares the latest rumor with the other secretaries in a voice like Fran Drescher.
Got the picture? Now LOSE the picture. If you only think of gossip in that stereotypical way, you’re likely to overlook it when it really happens. Any time one person in a workplace is saying something about a coworker that they wouldn’t say in front of them, 99 times out of 100, it’s harmful, it’s hurtful, and it’s gossip. And it’s usually not even accurate. If it were, they would be going to the person and making a request and taking leadership to get a change.
Don’t be confused by all the different forms gossip can take. Here are just a few:
- The Concern Troll: “What’s up with Judy lately? I’m getting worried about her, dragging herself in late and sleepwalking through her day like that. Have you noticed?”
- The Everybody Sezzer: “If Bob is angling for that promotion, he sure isn’t doing himself any favors, missing deadlines and flying off the handle at the least thing. Everybody says he’s back on those pills again.”
- The Heart Blesser: “Susan just doesn’t have the brains God gave a goat, bless her heart.”
Every one of these cuts another person down who isn’t present and enlists the listener in the crime. Every one has to be called out when it happens. And EVERY ONE is gossip, the sworn enemy of the productive and engaged workplace.
The first step in curing the disease is knowing the symptoms. So get serious and wipe it out of your workplace for good!