If every workplace in North America (and my guess would be the other continents, as well) became gossip-free zones, I am positive that productivity would go up by at least 25% overall. In some environments, it might go up by 50% or even more. And, the chaos that is caused by this lack of productivity would be essentially eliminated.
So, how can we avoid gossip and help our organizations be a gossip-free zone? Here are some ideas for you (and for me, believe me!):
- Know what gossip is. Here are a few definitions: “Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature” (American Heritage Dictionary); “Idle, often sensational and groundless talk about others” (Houghton Mifflin Thesaurus). Hmmmm. Neither one of those sound like this is something I want to be engaged in. And it certainly doesn’t make me more productive.
- Keep a count for 2 days of the number of times you engage in gossip, either because you instigated it or because someone else did and you listened. Are you increasing your productivity through this behavior?
- How much time do you spend in gossiping behavior? If you’re like me, you’re always looking for a few extra minutes in the day – and here they are!
- Once you have a number of times that you engage in gossip, then work to shave time off that for each two-day period in the future, until you are down to 0 times.
- Make a pact with yourself to stop gossiping. I will never forget that one of my best friend’s parents would say, “ZONK!” anytime either one of us would say anything that wasn’t nice about someone else. As teenagers, this was just mortifying, because they felt free to do this when we were out in public, not just at Donna’s house! However, I can still hear Mr. & Mrs. Riley’s voices whenever I say something negative about another person.
- Keep a count for 2 days of the number of times you overhear others gossiping. Ask yourself whether they are increasing their productivity by doing so.
- Come up with a way to gracefully and respectfully tell others that regardless of your behavior in the past, you are making a new choice about gossiping. That is, you are choosing not to be part of it.
- Remember that gossip can ruin business relationships, whether you’re the one gossiping or if you’re the one being gossiped about. It’s just nasty business.
- Ask yourself if the people who are gossipers are well respected. Does gossiping add to or detract from our self respect and others’ respect? You know the answer.
- Remind yourself of whether gossip hurts or helps. Anytime anyone (including you) starts to pass along a salacious tidbit (or something more minor), ask who is helped or who is hurt by this talk. Adjust the conversation accordingly.
“There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill behooves any of us to find fault with the rest of us.” – James Truslow Adams
Gossip can be toxic. Sadly, toxicity exists in any work environment. Please access the recording “Antioxidants” for Your Toxic Work Environment so you can live, learn and earn in positive, healthy, & productive places.