Admittedly, gossiping is a large part of everyday life for many people. For others it’s an occasional bit of fun. Nevertheless, once it starts it can spread like a deadly virus that produces both good and evil in all of us. When it’s positive, it spreads valuable and useful information. When negative, however, it creates harmful and often irreparable rumors about people and situations, especially among people we care about.
Follow these three simple guidelines to foster and build a healthy work and home environment. Practice them on a daily basis.
1. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it! Remember this old saying your grandmother probably told you? This truth transcends time. If the gossip you want to share isn’t complimentary, think twice; even three times, about whether you dare repeat it. Then don’t.
2. When you have something to say, say it directly. It’s easy to talk about someone when the person is not around. Whenever you get this urge, stop. This act alone will help curtail the gossip virus from spreading. Instead, if it’s something of real concern, arrange a time to approach the person one-on-one to share your views in a sensitive manner.
3. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. You are part of the problem when you disagree with a co-worker, or don’t like a management decision and you vent frustrations, anger, and displeasure with other co-workers. This behavior only causes more harm than good. If you must vent, do it with someone uninvolved, such as a spouse, close friend, or mentor. Then when you are calm and collected, talk to the person you disagree with one-on-one with respect and courtesy.
You are part of the solution, however, when you kindly yet firmly excuse yourself when in the middle of a negative, mean-spirited conversation. State you are not interested in being a part of such conversations. When the situation happens during a business meeting, politely ask the person to please refrain from such comments. If the person persists, leave the meeting.
For more on this subject, see the attached link to read a case study, “How to Completely Eliminate Office Gossip (Yeah, right)” by R. Summerhurst and J. Talbott. The tips section is particularly valuable and provides an excellent overview of how to keep the office gossip virus from being an epidemic in your life.
FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER. Pass this article on to anyone you know who may have problems with gossiping. Invite them to contact me with continued dialogue on this topic. I’d enjoy hearing from them.
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