Gossip is a wicked thing. It can bring a business to its knees. I have seen it, studied it, and watched it fester. Gossip spreads like a cancer, hurts innocent people, and creeps in right under your nose.
It begins with a ring leader, this is one unhappy person who spends their time recruiting followers. In this they are seeking justification, empowerment, and attention so that they are not alone in their discontent. Alas, gossip is poison for your company. Let me make the point clear here, that NO PROBLEM HAS EVER BEEN SOLVED THROUGH GOSSIP!
Gossip does one thing, and one thing only, it breeds resentment as it fans the flames of negativity.
When you see a group of workers huddling in the corner, or in an accomplice’s office, whispering, there is already a problem. As the minutes go by, the issue begins gaining momentum as they jabber on incessantly about how they dislike a person, assignment, or simply the way someone looked at them that day. Gossip creates problems, and then amplifies them beyond recognition. It is a tool that a person uses to make mountains out of molehills, and makes everything seem so much worse than it has to be. It heightens a person’s emotional reaction to a problem, and they end up with a sense of entitlement about it, knowing that the group always has their back. They have collectively ‘fed the beast’ so to speak, stoking the flames and building up their bias. They develop a delusion of invincibility, in that whatever happens, they can all gossip and complain about it later together, in an office, in a bar, their “safe space” over sushi and margaritas….. It is human nature to band together, you see, misery loves company!
Unfortunately, what people fail to understand is that friendship and gossiping are not the same thing. The ring leader will cloak the group in a disguise of friendship, and will use it to justify their behavior. However, gossiping is about tearing down, being negative, and encouraging disobedience from the other person. In contrast, a real friendly conversation consists of encouragement, helping someone to complete a task, and wanting resolutions.
Gossip recruits are just what their description states, they are meaningless recruits for the ring leader to use and to grumble with…. they are not real friends. Unfortunately they will use their new found allegiances to wreak havoc on your staff.
What does this all mean for your business? Well, the gossiping employees dedicate their time to their craft, and unfortunately their new craft is not their actual jobs. Gossiping takes them away from their duties, and productivity slows down. It also makes them feel safe in doing so because the entire group is participating, and they believe there is safety in numbers from consequences like being fired. They can focus on their aversion like a target, and it can result in the group vs ‘person X’. Be very mindful here, since ‘Person X’ is often a person of authority, so beware of any disrespect as it can indicate a mutinous intent.
Other employees will feel uncomfortable with this new culture of whispers. Those who are outside of the gossip group will assume they are the ones being spoken about. They will also wonder why they are working so hard, and staying busy, while this other group neglects their duties and somehow gets away with it. Outsiders observing this will feel that it is unfair, and the result is that they will start to complain themselves…..but uh-oh, remember once again that misery indeed loves it’s company, doesn’t it? Then, just like that, another gossip group is formed! In the end, you have multiple groups resenting each other, not performing their assigned tasks, and your company basically becomes divided into mini gangs….anarchy!….and how did this all start? Probably with something so small it doesn’t even matter.
So when you hear whispers, break it up. Encourage employees to come to you with their issues, instead of seeking solace in each other. Listen to your employees’ needs and concerns. Isolate the ring leader, let them know it is not ok to spread negativity and recruit others into that mentality. Hold people accountable for their actions. Plan frequent team building workshops to encourage positivity and team work. Reward hard work, create a positive and inviting atmosphere, and lead by example!
Here are a few TrainUp classes you may wish to consider:
Building Better Work Relationships
|Course ID: 189125|
Workplace Conflict: Strategies for Resolving Conflicts Online course
|Course ID: 202558|
Dealing Effectively With Unacceptable Employee Behavior
|Course ID: 190941|
Effective Team-building Strategies Online course
|Course ID: 205452|