Archive for the ‘Workplace Gossip’ Category

Venting is Gossip

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Got a gripe? Stand in line. Lots of people can point out a lot of things that are wrong, and it doesn’t do anybody any good. Instead, when you have a gripe, only go to the person who can do something about it.

If instead you take that gripe to someone who can’t do something about it and say, “see Tom, he doesn’t do this thing,” and roll your eyes, you are now a big part of the problem. Because now, people don’t feel like they can trust you to handle things with authenticity, kindness, or compassion.

Next time you see somebody who is missing the mark, go to that person directly and ask for what you need. Or, if you can’t get it from them, go to somebody who can coach them. But never go to another person because that’s gossip, and gossip is hurtful.

Now, if you’re thinking, “but Roxanne, I just needed to vent.” Let me assure you, venting is gossip. It only hurts other people, and people look at you differently because they now wonder what you’ll say when they turn their backs.

From now on, make a commitment to only directly ask from people what you need. If it’s a negative, ask directly or go higher up in the organization, but never go to another person. Then, people will see you as a person of great integrity.

Transparency: Bad For Drama, But Good For Business

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, or House of Cards, or even Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, you know that hidden agendas are great for drama. Everyone is watching everybody else out of the corners of their eyes, wondering what they’re planning to do next.

Imagine how those shows would fall flat is every character suddenly developed a commitment to transparency. It would kill the drama!

That’s exactly why transparency is essential for business. Drama lives in the shadows. Transparency kills the drama by shedding light. When we watch television, we want to see things fall apart. But the same drama that makes for great entertainment can make a workplace unbearable. It can bring productivity crashing to earth, and with it the livelihood of everyone in the company.

Transparency is one of the most essential qualities in today’s workplace. Say what you mean and mean what you say. No hidden agendas. Plenty of sunshine. Be open and honest about what you need and what you intend to do.

A workplace that embraces the need for transparency replaces drama with happy, productive team members—which is better than winning an Emmy, don’t you think?

Why Do People Spread Gossip, and Why Do Others Listen?

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Gossip ruins lives. It’s worth taking some time to study it so you can help rid your workplace of it. And one of the first steps is understanding the reasons that people are such willing participants in it.

Why do people spread gossip? Usually the person spreading rumors has a bad self-image, so they try to pull others down to compensate. Seriously, think about this. If you have gossips in your workplace, are they people who have their stuff together? I’m not talking about the bluster and confidence on the surface, but what’s really inside. Are they grounded and satisfied? Not bloody likely, or they wouldn’t feel the need to level the playing field.

According to workplace research, the content of gossip is 80 percent inaccurate. That’s the proof that the real intention is to hurt others, not to solve a problem, even if they pretend otherwise.

Gossip is a two-way transaction, of course. So why do people listen to it? Two reasons: First, they want to feel “in on it,” partly so they aren’t on the receiving end of it. I hate to tell you – that will not protect you. If you keep gossip alive as a part of your workplace culture, it’s like feeding a rattlesnake and letting it roam the halls. Eventually it’ll bite you too.

Second, people listen because they too like the little thrill of supposedly putting themselves above someone else. They’ll tell themselves they aren’t the kind of person who would start it, but what’s the harm in listening in? Plenty, of course, because gossip needs an audience to stay alive.

Understanding the motivations of the gossips and their audiences is an important step in fixing the problem for good.

So what about you? Are you part of the solution—or part of the problem?

If you participate in the gossip game—whether as pitcher or catcher—call it quits. You know better. If the Queen of England came to your home today, you’d act better, wouldn’t you? Well, act better right now. Be the person your dog thinks you are. If you’re the one with a poor self-image, it will do a lot for your self-esteem to keep your nose clean from gossip. If you don’t, you are virtually guaranteed to come to a really bad day and maybe even lose your job. One way or another, the result is always ugly.

So make a commitment here and now to rise above it all.

Gossip takes two

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Gossip is the mother lode of dysfunctional behaviors—the worst poison in a workplace culture.

And it’s an epidemic. In a survey by the American Society for Training and Development, 85 percent of people admitted to gossiping in the workplace, and 21 percent reported gossiping frequently.

This crazy and dysfunctional behavior has been “normalized.”

In fact, a survey by Equisys found that the average employee spends 65 hours a year gossiping at the office. That’s a week and a half that’s completely non-productive. No, it’s worse than that—the average employee spends a week and a half each year actively undermining the health and productivity of the workplace!

You might think you’re off the hook if you only listen but don’t spread it yourself. Fat chance. If you listen, you are the “buyer,” creating the need that the gossip is fulfilling. If you stop listening, they will have to stop dealing.

There comes a time when we have to grow up, and that time is now. That means no spreading gossip and no listening to gossip. Commit with every cell in your body NOT to participate.

If someone comes to you speaking negatively about another person, it is your ethical obligation to say something like, “I can see you’re concerned. Let’s get a productive result here. Let’s go together right now to talk to Janet and make sure you hear each other’s concerns so something changes.”

Now THAT’S a healthy agreement.

Confronting a Gossip

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

When most people think of a dysfunctional workplace, they picture a lot of screaming and yelling. That’s unpleasant, but believe it or not, it’s not the most destructive thing a workplace can endure. Real dysfunction has little that has to do with raised voices.

If I had to nominate just one thing as the most destructive symptom of the dysfunctional workplace, there’s no contest. It’s GOSSIP. And the only way to root it out is by going straight to the source—confronting the gossip directly.

But how do you confront a gossip?

Step one is to recognize that gossip is an attempt at communication— seriously screwed up communication, sure, but communication nonetheless. You can’t eliminate the behavior without providing something to replace it—namely a good and healthy way of communicating.

If Joe was late once again with his report, Jack might be tempted to do a little quiet backstabbing. But if he wants an actual change in Joe’s behavior and a sane workplace, all Jack has to do is to go to Joe and say, “Joe, when you are late with that analysis, I end up on my knees to my boss because then my report is late. Please promise me you’ll get that to me on time from now on.”

Reasonable. Direct. Easy.

If instead Jack makes the wrong choice and comes to you with gossip about Joe, simply say, “Gee, it sounds like you need to talk to Joe directly so you can work this out.” Then add the clincher: “Let’s go over to Joe right now and make your suggestion about what you want to see changed.”

If Jack says, “Oooh, I don’t know if I want to do that, he’ll get mad,” you point out how much madder he would be if he learned that he was being talked about behind his back! “I know you want to do this honestly, so let’s go ask Joe for what you need.” Reasonable. Direct. Easy!

It’s amazing how quickly gossip withers on the vine when you stop feeding it. So have some courage, be the one who not only declares a zero-tolerance policy for talking behind another person’s back, but also walks the walks. Then watch the dysfunction ebb away.

Quick Tip

Be sure to watch yourself as well! Nothing will kill your gossip-free initiative quicker than gossiping yourself.