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Posts Tagged ‘gossip in the workplace’

Office Gossip Kills Organizational Culture

I had a colleague at my last job, prior to starting Candid Culture, who was a peer and a friend. We were at a similar level and would periodically sit in one of our offices, with the door closed, engaging in office gossip, talking about the bad decisions our company’s senior leaders made. One day I realized that these conversations were exhausting to me. They were negative and didn’t make me feel better. In fact, they made me feel worse.

Some people distinguish between office gossip and venting, asserting that venting is cathartic and makes people feel better. It doesn’t. Venting and office gossip are one in the same and both will make you tired and feel worse about your job and organization.

I’ll use an analogy I read in one of Deepak Chopra’s books. When you put a plant in the closet and don’t give it light or water, it withers and dies. When you put a plant in the sunlight and water it, it grows. And the same is true for people. Wherever you put your attention will get bigger and stronger. Whatever you deprive attention will become smaller.

In addition to draining you of energy and ensuring you focus on the things that frustrate you, office gossip kills organizations’ cultures. If employees can’t trust that their peers won’t talk about them when they’re not there, there is no trust in the organization. And this lack of trust feels terrible. It makes employees nervous and paranoid. A lack of trust sucks the enjoyment out of working because we feel we have to continuously watch our back.

Office gossip isn’t going anywhere. It’s a human phenomenon and is here to stay. But you can reduce office gossip.

Here are five steps to reduce the office gossip in your workplace:

Reducing gossip in the workplace step one:  Address the gossip head on.

Tell your employees, “I’ve been hearing a lot of gossip, which is not good for our culture.”

Reducing gossip in the workplace step two:  Hold regular town hall meetings, and give employees more information than you think you need to about initiatives, organizational changes, profitability, etc. Employees want to know how the organization is  doing and what they can do to contribute. In the absence of knowledge, people make stuff up, not because they’re malicious, but because they have a need to know. Employees don’t have to fill in the gaps with office gossip when you inform them.

Reducing gossip in the workplace step three:  Create a no-gossip-in-the-workplace policy.

Tell your employees, “We want people talking directly to each other, rather than about each other. As a result, we’re putting a no-gossip policy in place.”

Reducing gossip in the workplace step four:  Draw attention to gossip.

Perhaps suggest, “Every time you hear gossip, wave two fingers in the air (or something else that’s equally visual).” This will draw attention to office gossip without calling anyone out.

Also, ask your peers and friends not to gossip with you. End conversations that contain gossip. This will be hard to do, but if everyone does it, it will become much easier.”

Reducing gossip in the workplace step five:  Have an agreed-upon consequence for gossip.

Tell employees, “Every time we hear gossip in the workplace, the gossiper owes a dollar. Every quarter the gossipers will buy the office lunch from the office gossip jar.”

The keys to reducing office gossip are to draw attention to the gossip, have a consequence for gossiping, and over communicate so your employees don’t have to fill in the gaps themselves.

Venting and office gossip are the same. If you’re talking about someone else, unless you’re planning a conversation with a coworker or friend to address a challenge or problem, you’re gossiping. And talking about what frustrates you will only make you more frustrated.

My advice:  Do something about the things you can impact and let the other stuff go. Talk about the things that matter to you. Resist the temptation to speak negatively about the people around you. And know that anyone who will gossip about someone to you, will also gossip about you.

Negative Feedback


Office Gossip Kills Organizational Culture

Venting = office gossip

I had a colleague at my last job, prior to starting Candid Culture, who was a peer and a friend. We were at a similar level and would periodically sit in one of our offices, with the door closed, engaging in office gossip, talking about the bad decisions our company’s senior leaders made. One day I realized that these conversations were exhausting to me. They were negative and didn’t make me feel better. In fact, they made me feel worse.

Some people distinguish between office gossip and venting, asserting that venting is cathartic and makes people feel better. It doesn’t. Venting and office gossip are one in the same and both will make you tired and feel worse about your job and organization.

I’ll use an analogy I read in one of Deepak Chopra’s books. When you put a plant in the closet and don’t give it light or water, it withers and dies. When you put a plant in the sunlight and water it, it grows. And the same is true for people. Wherever you put your attention will get bigger and stronger. Whatever you deprive attention will become smaller.

In addition to draining you of energy and ensuring you focus on the things that frustrate you, office gossip kills organizations’ cultures. If employees can’t trust that their peers won’t talk about them when they’re not there, there is no trust in the organization. And this lack of trust feels terrible. It makes employees nervous and paranoid. A lack of trust sucks the enjoyment out of working because we feel we have to continuously watch our back.

Office gossip isn’t going anywhere. It’s a human phenomenon and is here to stay. But you can reduce office gossip.

Here are five steps to reduce the office gossip in your workplace:

Reducing gossip in the workplace step one:  Address the gossip head on.

Tell your employees, “I’ve been hearing a lot of gossip, which is not good for our culture.”

Reducing gossip in the workplace step two:  Hold regular town hall meetings, and give employees more information than you think you need to about initiatives, organizational changes, profitability, etc. Employees want to know how the organization is  doing and what they can do to contribute. In the absence of knowledge, people make stuff up, not because they’re malicious, but because they have a need to know. Employees don’t have to fill in the gaps with office gossip when you inform them.

Reducing gossip in the workplace step three:  Create a no-gossip-in-the-workplace policy.

Tell your employees, “We want people talking directly to each other, rather than about each other. As a result, we’re putting a no-gossip policy in place.”

Reducing gossip in the workplace step four:  Draw attention to gossip.

Perhaps suggest, “Every time you hear gossip, wave two fingers in the air (or something else that’s equally visual).” This will draw attention to office gossip without calling anyone out.

Also, ask your peers and friends not to gossip with you. End conversations that contain gossip. This will be hard to do, but if everyone does it, it will become much easier.”

Reducing gossip in the workplace step five:  Have an agreed-upon consequence for gossip.

Tell employees, “Every time we hear gossip in the workplace, the gossiper owes a dollar. Every quarter the gossipers will buy the office lunch from the office gossip jar.”

The keys to reducing office gossip are to draw attention to the gossip, have a consequence for gossiping, and over communicate so your employees don’t have to fill in the gaps themselves.

Venting and office gossip are the same. If you’re talking about someone else, unless you’re planning a conversation with a coworker or friend to address a challenge or problem, you’re gossiping. And talking about what frustrates you will only make you more frustrated.

My advice:  Do something about the things you can impact and let the other stuff go. Talk about the things that matter to you. Resist the temptation to speak negatively about the people around you. And know that anyone who will gossip about someone to you, will also gossip about you.

Negative Feedback


Gossip in the Workplace Kills Organizational Culture

gossip in the workplaceI had a colleague at my last job who was a peer and a friend. We were at a similar level and would periodically sit in one of our offices, with the door closed, talking about the bad decisions our company’s senior leaders made. One day I realized that these conversations were exhausting to me. They were negative and didn’t make me feel better. In fact, they made me feel worse.

Some people distinguish between gossip and venting, asserting that venting is cathartic and makes people feel better. It doesn’t.

I’ll use an analogy I read in one of Deepak Chopra’s books. When you put a plant in the closet and don’t give it light or water, it withers and dies. When you put a plant in the sunlight and water it, it grows. And the same is true for people. Whatever you give attention will proliferate. Whatever you deprive attention will go away.

Your life is made up of the people you spend time with and what you talk about. What are you talking about?

In addition to draining you of energy and ensuring you focus on the things that frustrate you, gossip in the workplace kills the organization’s culture. If employees can’t trust that their peers won’t talk about them when they’re not there, there is no trust in the organization. And you can’t have real relationships without trust.

Gossip isn’t going anywhere. It’s a human phenomenon and is here to stay. But you can reduce gossip.

A few ways to reduce the gossip in the workplace:

  1. Address the gossip head on.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of gossip, which is not good for our culture.”

  1. Hold regular town hall meetings, and give employees information about initiatives, organizational changes, profitability, etc. Employees want to know how the company is really doing and what they can do to contribute.
  2. Create a no gossip in the workplace policy.

“We want people talking directly to each other, rather than about each other. As a result, we’re putting a no gossip policy in place.”

  1. Draw attention to gossip.

“Every time you hear gossip, wave two fingers in the air.” This will draw attention to the gossip in the workplace without calling anyone out.

Also, ask your peers and friends not to gossip with you. End conversations that contain gossip. This will be hard to do, but if everyone does it, it will become much easier.

  1. Have an agreed-upon consequence for gossip.

“Every time we hear gossip in the workplace, the gossiper owes a dollar. Every quarter the gossipers will buy the office lunch from the gossip jar.”

The keys to reducing gossip in your office are to draw attention to the gossip, have a consequence for gossiping, and over communicate so your employees don’t have to make stuff up. Employees want to know what’s happening in the organization. In the absence of knowledge, people make stuff up, and it’s never good.

Venting and gossip are the same. Unless you’re planning a conversation with a coworker or friend to address a challenge or problem, you’re gossiping. And talking about what frustrates you will only make you more frustrated.

My advice:  Do something about the things you can impact and let the other stuff go. Talk about the things that matter to you. Resist the temptation to speak negatively about the people around you. And know that anyone who will gossip about someone to you, will also gossip about you.


Gossip in the Workplace – A Secret is A Secret When the Other Person You Told is Dead

gossip in the workplace

Even after working in the corporate arena for 18 years, I am amazed at how much people talk about other people. I’m a little embarrassed that gossip in the workplace still catches me off guard. I used to live in New York City. How can I be this naïve?

Last week I talked with a friend I used to work with. She still works for the company where we worked together. She told me that Michael, one of our old coworkers, was job hunting. “How do you know that?” I asked. She said Bob the IT manager had told her, and Lisa the marketing director had told Bob. Lisa is friends with Michael. Michael must have confided in Lisa, who told Bob, who told my friend, who told me.  I have, by the way, changed everyone’s names, so as not to tell the rest of the world that Michael is job hunting. But in the event that you have an open job that would be a good fit for Michael, perhaps I should put his real name and email address here.

Michael trusts Lisa. But Lisa clearly isn’t trustworthy. I’m sure she thinks she is, but clearly, she can’t keep information to herself. Lisa trusts Bob to keep a secret, but clearly Bob can’t and neither can my friend.

So what does this say? Everyone is a liar and no one keeps confidences? No, I’m actually saying neither of these things.

I really believe that people think they keep a confidence when they share information like this. We rationalize telling ourselves, “I only told one person, and Bob won’t say anything. I trust him. And Michael wouldn’t mind if I told Bob. They’re friends. And even if he did mind, Bob needs to know because if Michael leaves it will impact IT.” And so it goes.

I’m not telling you this to make you paranoid. I’m saying it to make you careful.

I have started to assume that whatever I tell someone will be told to someone else. And it makes me more careful about what I say and write, especially what I write. Don’t put anything in an email you wouldn’t be comfortable being forwarded to someone else.

You may be wondering how this is possible. There is no one who keeps a confidence? How can you run a business like that? Anything I tell someone will be told to someone else? Not if you’re talking to an outside consultant, a business coach, your attorney or accountant, but inside your organization, yes. People have a tendency to share gossip in the workplace with their inner circle –the people in the organization they’re close to. So be careful. Watch what you say and to whom. And assume that whatever you tell someone may go elsewhere. Consider the upside –you can use your coworkers to share news that you don’t have time to broadcast yourself.

gossip in the workplace


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