Stop This Virus from Spreading in Your Culture

Is gossip undermining your work culture?


 Dear Bonnie
During the staff meeting two employees looked at one another and rolled their eyes while another co-worker shared a new idea. Instead of stating their opinion about the suggestion their co-worker presented, they stayed silent.  After the meeting at the proverbial “water cooler”, they talked about why the idea wouldn’t work and spoke poorly about their co-worker.

Gossip. It is like a germ that is invisible and infests the work culture like a virus. It causes divisions among co-workers and undermines productivity and results. It causes teams to work against one another instead of towards collaboration and a common goal.

When team members avoid a healthy debate of exploring different ideas and perspective, creativity and innovation are minimized. Unfortunately many organizations settle for superficial agreement during meetings and later discuss with others what should have been said at the time. While it may be uncomfortable to speak up and take action about your opinion, failing to do so contributes to a culture of negativity and a norm that people are talked about behind their back.




Lift blinders to how you contribute to gossip

If you find yourself not speaking up when your head is disagreeing with a co-worker, ask yourself the following questions to figure out what keeps you from expressing your opinion at the time?

1. How did people respond in your upbringing when you spoke up?
2. What behaviors have been modeled to you either from your family or your current work environment about voicing your opinion?
3. When others have disagreed with you, what happened?
4. How did you develop the tendency to avoid speaking up?
5. What do you think would happen if you did express your opinion that is different from others?

The answers you come up with will help you decide what steps you need to take in order to contribute your opinion, even if others disagree, and to address the issue at hand while everyone affected is present.

How to stop gossip in your workplace

If you hear comments about others or are tempted to talk about others who are not present, decide ahead of time how you will respond by keeping the following in mind:

  • If people gossip to you about others, it is only a matter of time they will gossip about you when you are not present.
  • Before commenting about someone else, consider “how will my words contribute to helping or hurting this person, their reputation, or the situation at hand?”
  • Determine to take a stand of not contributing to gossip by either stepping away from conversations or stating “let’s address that when the person is here”.
  • Request “hearsay” to be backed up with facts.
  • Words matter and leave a lasting impression, choose your words wisely.

Make the conscious choice to stop gossip and you will
avoid divisions in your organization.

Share your comments about how you have stopped
gossip in your office.

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