Gossip, Rumors and Innuendo
By Gary Ryan Blair
"Extraordinary people talk about ideas, average people talk about events, and little people talk about other people. Which of these best describe you?"
To many people, the idea of "workplace violence" connotes the physical harm that one may do to another. However, there is another form of workplace violence that is just as dangerous and insidious, and this is workplace gossip, rumors, and innuendo.
While your first inclination may be to consider the way we talk as not being violent, the fact remains, our words in the context of gossip, rumors, and innuendo often lead to hurt, pain and suffering.
Today there's an ever-increasing emphasis on gossip, rumors, and innuendo which is played out in any number of Reality TV shows, in celebrity gossip shows, in the print media, and in political campaigns. Just to prove this point, I contacted the National Enquirer and learned that they sell more than 3 million copies each week!
In company offices, in meetings, on the phone, in emails, in social settings and around the water cooler, people are spending more time talking about someone else - in language that is most often harmful, hurtful, critical, demeaning, and judgmental - and outside the presence of the one who is the subject of the conversation.
Understanding Gossip and Those Who Gossip
Gossip is an emotional cancer in the workplace that eats away at the sense of well-being of the individual and the team.
One of the hallmarks of a true "team" is shared values - including mutual honesty, trust and respect. Where gossip rears its ugly head, these shared values are nonexistent. In fact, when gossip exists in the workplace, there can be no "team." The label "team" is meaningless. At best, there is but a "group."
Contrary to popular opinion, gossip is not benign; it's not idle; it's not tame; it's not "for the fun of it." It's certainly not entertainment, and if you at all interested in living a quality life and running a quality business, you must put an end to it!
Ending Gossip, Rumors, and Innuendo
When dealing with gossip in the workplace and throughout your life, it's critical to explore not only the symptom, but also the root cause of this particular aspect of "workplace violence." And, to discover root causes, it's well to turn the microscope on yourself and begin by answering a number of important questions:
- What are my true motivations for gossiping?
- What does gossiping get me?
- Why am I willingly (consciously or unconsciously) choosing to cause another person harm, hurt, upset, or pain?
- Is there another way to get this same result without harming another?