Gossip Strangles Growth

By Ann
June 13, 2013

Almost everyone does it to some degree or another—share information and misinformation that serves no useful purpose.  It zaps productivity and morale.

Gossip creates toxic cultures in companies and yet often it is the norm. You know when someone begins with “Well, I heard...” you are about to hear the latest scuttlebutt. It may or may not be true. It may or may not be malicious.

A favorite uncle liked to say that “If you are talking about me, you are giving someone else a chance to rest.”

The following are possible reasons we engage in conversations that do not serve anyone and actually can be destructive:

  1.  The one “carrying tales” is in the spotlight.  He or she knows a juicy tidbit that no one else knows.  It makes them feel important.
  1. A situation may threaten an individual and he feels the need to undermine it with a rumor.  The intent is to cause harm.
  1. We underestimate the cost of mistruths and half-truths.  Time spent talking about others is time spent not working.  Talk is cheap but is it really?

How can we transform the time, energy and creativity used to spread useless and in some cases, harmful, information?

When tempted to engage in gossip as the listener or the talker, ask yourself what is the purpose of the information.  If it does not meet the standard of beneficial and benign, substitute these actions:

  •  Ask  is it true, is it kind, is it necessary
  • Find the best in others
  • Build up others through positive interactions with them
  • Support others by offering or giving help
  • Create something to improve the way you do business
  • Focus on what is yours to do; let others take care of what is theirs to do

Develop the discipline to engage in productive conversations.  If you are not willing to listen to gossip, it has no place to go.  It may take some time and consistent action to change the gossip habit but it will be worth the effort for not only you but also your company.

Devise a way to self-monitor your gossip habit.  With a deep-seated habit, enlist a colleague to help you catch your gossip habit. $1 for every time you “carry tales” and give the money to your charity of choice at the end of the week.

For example, in Toastmasters, the role of Grammarian is to count “ums”, “ahs”, and other filler words of participants at the meeting.  People are surprised at the number of times they use these useless, filler words.  Many do not know they use these distractions at all!

Spend your energy on something worthwhile that improves not only your productivity and morale but also that of others around you. It takes awareness and discipline. Put an end to gossip to make a significant difference for the better.

© 2013 Ann Elliott All Rights Reserved

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