Harmless conversations at the water cooler, a debate over who should have that sought-after promotion, or just a harmless comment about a co-worker’s behaviour with the boss at the office function! Is it chitchat or is it gossip?
Gossip is never positive – it’s negative, hurtful, controversial, provocative and often inflammatory without substantial facts. Gossip is as old as mankind and we will probably never eradicate it completely from the workplace.
So why is it so destructive with so many side effects? Seldom does it display the facts and can spiral out of control in a very short space of time – gaining creativity and more detail at each point of contact! It increases conflict, decreases company morale, puts strain on relationships by breaking down trust levels, kills teamwork and results in people working in-efficiently with one another. Productivity is decreased which has an immediate impact on the bottom line – no matter how good your product is!
How do we break this vicious cycle?
- Don’t listen – don’t participate in the story. If someone tells you a negative piece of news, do not repeat it.
- Don’t you be a “gossiper”. Spread good news instead.
- Nip it in the bud. Suggest to the “gossiper” that the person in question should be present. That will eliminate any false statements. In fact it will stop the gossip in its tracks.
- As a supervisor or manager, do not engage in gossip yourself. Be a great role model.
In closing – the benefits of having a gossip free organisation is one of the most valuable assets you can have. People will be motivated, trust levels will be high and everyone will be working to their optimum – and surely this will affect your bottom line positively.