Lately, gossip in the workplace is something that I have been faced with and I don’t enjoy it. I have been a part of it. I like knowing about other people’s lives. I am a very curious person. I see the harm gossip brings. Knowing certain things about others can bring teams closer together. Where is the balance of connecting with teammates about work and personal lives, and causing harm or stress in the work place?
Here are some thoughts that I may offer. We are social beings. We like to connect. There are times when learning about others builds understanding, breeds support and fosters coming together. There are other times when talking about others is hurtful. There are also people that are more open about their personal lives. So, me as a more expressive and non-private person, I need to be aware that NOT everyone wants me to share the things they have chosen to share with me. There are also some helpful ways to know whether “water cooler” talk is a good idea.
In the last month or more I was venting to certain people about team players versus non-team players. It hit me hard when I realized that I was not building good team dynamics by gossiping about teammate’s work habits. I realized that my gut was sending me whispers, when I opened my mouth, “Shut up, shut up shut up!” But I kept gossiping. One of the biggest clues that my talk was not ok, was that I was whispering AND I would have felt bad if the person/people had heard me. I would also head back to my cubicle knowing what I engaged in was hurtful and mean-spirited.
I decided that, in the month of August, I was going to committ to walking away from gossip, I was not going to start gossip, and I would talk directly to people about issues if I had them. And if I was not willing to address the person, I needed to find away to let my feelings go. My business partner Jon gave me a helpful hints. Jon shared when he hears gossip about a person, he chooses NOT to believe it. He chooses to develop his own thoughts, feelings, and personal relationship with each individual. I invite you to find the balance of productive socializing and destructive gossip.