Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 8:54 am | Partly Cloudy 60º


John Daly: Why Gossip in the Workplace Is Lethal

Maybe you think that gossip is a harmless, unavoidable element of the workplace. It isn’t. Left unchecked, gossip wreaks havoc on company morale and efficiency.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t discuss who had drinks together after work. I’m referring to talk among coworkers, managers and executives about work-related matters to someone who can’t do anything about it. When you don’t discuss this with someone who can help the situation, you are not being upfront and honest. Rather, you are being a coward.

Unfortunately, most human beings are prone to complaining. Most often it is not productive and results in resentment that blocks collaboration and good communication.

This doesn’t mean you should never voice a negative opinion about anything work-related. It should never discourage you from questioning anything. However, most workplace gossip is often about issues that truly concern the company and should be openly discussed with management. These include:

» Company layoffs

» Why budgets are cut from one department and not another

» The boss taking sole credit for another individual or team member’s work

These things are toxic for the entire company. An organization that is free of gossip provides a place for honest communications. Employers are able to deal with issues upfront and address them to the individual who can actually do something about them. This enhances teamwork, trust and good communication.

The Keys to Preventing Gossip

» Management must declare that work is a no-gossip zone.

» To avoid engaging in gossip, steer clear of places where gossip abounds (like the coffee pot) or where people who are likely to partake in it linger. If others start gossiping, change the subject. If the gossiper doesn’t take the hint, tell him or her directly that you would prefer not to gossip. Or excuse yourself to handle some legitimate business activity.

» Information among coworkers often gets misinterpreted or exaggerated. That results in spreading rumors. Eventually, your manager will hear the gossip and get a distorted version of your concerns rather than what you truly meant or said. Don’t repeat gossip from others. Think about sharing what you’ve heard with your manager (not a co-worker) as a growing concern within the company.

» Encourage those who gossip to go directly to the person who can do something about it instead of simply repeating it to others who have no authority to change it. If you do, you can create positive solutions for your company rather than being part of the problem in a deteriorating workplace.

Remember, if a gossiper speaks badly of another person, he or she will have a tendency to turn around and speak badly about you.

Don’t trust those who gossip. They are destructive forces. Encouraging or supporting them only empowers them to create more drama. Instead of being considered a source of gossip, develop a reputation as someone who can be a trusted confidante.

Great Video Information

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Social Life Skills 101

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Held from 6 to 8 p.m. every Thursday at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, 1535 Santa Barbara St.

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 or [email protected].

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or get information on Thursday night classes in Santa Barbara. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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