Gossip… A Leading Indicator of an Upcoming Pink Slip

If you’re looking to shoot your own job security in the foot during this insecure time, there’s no better way than to get down in the mud with the worst of your coworkers.

Your mama taught you this one, and don’t say she didn’t. Watch who you hang out with. My mama did too, though I didn’t really understand at the time. After hearing hundreds of stories of why executives released their employees, it’s plenty clear to me now. People lose their jobs at astronomical rates because they didn’t keep their noses clean.

Here’s how it works.

Even the last round of cuts didn’t get rid of all of the dysfunctional behaviors. They’re complaining, gossiping, playing passive aggressive, “Oh I’m so helpless, nobody told me” games, rolling their eyes, and acting like they’re in adult day care.

Most have performance issues and use their behaviors to disguise the fact that they’re not meeting goals and deadlines. Who can hold them accountable when they have an audience for their mantra, “Hey, what do you expect from me… I work for a jerk!” Of course the facts are always a bit twisted, since the truth never quite fits the “drama queen” role they’re starring in.

And if you think you’re doing right by lending an empathetic ear, you could lose your job too.

These complainers are like Lays potato chips… you can never have just one. A little wine in the barn filled with horse manure is no problem, but a little manure in your wine… well, you get the idea. These complainers need an audience, and their audience members are vulnerable—especially if they don’t know how to say, “Sounds like you need to make a request of Joe directly. You probably need to go to him NOW.”

This is the year these folks might get their comeuppance, and you don’t want to be in the water when that ship goes down or you’ll be sucked straight to the ocean floor as well. Game playing is never a singles sport, and your boss will be looking to see who hits the ball back when she cleans house of the troublemakers. You’d better not even have a racquet in your hand.

At every moment, you are either solving problems or creating them. I never saw a job description that said, “Looking for someone who can point out all problems to people who can’t do anything about them and waste time incessantly while demotivating employees with twisted untruths.”

Just because your boss doesn’t see you gossiping or listening to it doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel it and doesn’t hear it from others. Just like your mama, she just knows. And when she gets enough evidence to deal with it, boy howdy, she will.

If you have an opinion, share it with grace and kindness with the person who can do something about it. Backstabbing and talking about it with those who can’t do a thing about it without regard for solution will get you fired more often than not. And even if it doesn’t, you still have to live with you. Looking at your evil twin in the mirror every morning isn’t the easiest way to start your day.

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