Noodle* on this…
Fire and swords are slow engines of destruction, compared to the tongue of a Gossip.~ Richard Steele
Gossip can be fun – especially “juicy” gossip and according to psychologist Peggy Drexler, PhD, It’s a fact of life: Where there are groups, there will be gossip. It’s how we’re wired. But in the workplace what’s natural can also be harmful—to morale, productivity, and careers. And, not just in the workplace. It is harmful everyplace.
Anthropologists tell us that gossip helps form connections among people and can be used to put pressure on those group members who are seen as “not pulling their own weight.” According to Dr. Drexler, It is almost certain that deep in our past, a group of Mesolithic humans stood around a fresh kill, talking about someone who wasn’t holding up his end of the hunting and gathering.
But gossip hurts. It can damage relationships and hinder progress at work. In my corporate life, I was part of a process improvement team working on a project involving major changes in a work process. Like every major change, there some problems, bumps, and unforeseen issues that popped up in the early stages. But we understood that it was a work in progress.
Over time, the process was fine tuned based on the data collected, the problems encountered and feedback from employees, customers and stakeholders. As the process improved, customer satisfaction scores improved, management was pleased and those involved became more comfortable and proficient with the situation and found that they had time to attend to other tasks.
Enter the gossips! One day, I stopped in the break room to get a soda. There were several people gathered around a table and they invited me to join them. Turns out, they wanted the latest gossip on the project. According to them, “everyone hates the changes” and “it is not going to last.”
I admitted that, like all changes, it was a work in progress; but the problems were being worked out and the feedback I received from the customers was excellent. “They love the changes.” The people at the table were surprised and proceeded to tell me “horror stories” that never happened. I know because I was there when the horrors supposedly occurred.
This illustrates one of the problems with gossip – it spreads like the plague. No one is sure where gossip comes from or if it is true, but they just keep passing it on and somehow it takes on the power of fact. Also, gossip destroys trust and causes conflicts. And really… don’t we all have better things to do and to talk about?
Your Weekly Noodle Challenge…
If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, it is necessary, is it kind?” ~ The Buddha
The next time you are tempted to gossip, answer the Buddha’s questions before you speak:
- Is it true?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it kind?
Share your thoughts or experiences about gossip with us in the Comments section below.
* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.
Image courtesy of The Boyer Management Group.