May 30, 2001,
rumours can lower morale
needn’t be a bad thing
rumours can lower morale
Human dialogue can be a great healer or a great destroyer.
Your good name and reputation is one of your most precious assets. You build a good name by many small acts, yet you can lose it by one foolish act. Your reputation is so important to you; it is the unseen yet outward sign of trust and honesty that other people look for in your character. Harmful gossip, unkind and unjustifiable criticisms and lies can do untold damage to your reputation and even if you cannot resist the temptation of spreading the same gossip about others, it can cause a dent in your own reputation too.
Gossip is the malicious talking about another person’s intimate dealings. It can be as harmful as physical wounds. Telling lies about someone is as harmful as hitting him with an axe or wounding him with a sword or shooting him with a sharp arrow. Yes, gossip is seductive. There is no doubt about it. That is why most of us have indulged in gossip at one time or another. Gossip may be fun to listen to, but it cannot be trusted enough to build intimate relationships with. No matter how jolly a person seems, gossip and criticism reveals on the outward what is going on in the inside—-negative thinking and hatred. Gossip and criticism are used to make us feel better about our positions in life. We feel good when someone else is worse off. Gossip and criticisms pull down your spirit. My grandmother used to say, "Garbage in, garbage out". How correct, isn’t it? Listening to gossip can be as harmful as speaking it. It changes the way you look at and feel about people.
Most of us love to talk but sometimes do not consider if what we are discussing could be hurtful or harmful to others, especially if it is a woman in question. Gossip is not a form of flattery and in most circumstances, it lacks any validity. It can take the form of some very vicious attacks on others and cause irreparable damage. When you assume to know and talk about the private affairs of others, you are creating an unattractive and unprofessional personality trait for yourself.
Whenever Aruna and her co-worker get together, the talk turns invariably in the direction of something juicy. "You know I should not be telling you this, but the boss has been taking more and more long weekends and we have all seen her put away three or four margaritas at parties. No wonder she is never there when we need her." While we may look askance at Aruna’s pastime, most of us have from time to time taken pleasure in dissecting the affairs of others. Gossip is hard to resist. This is by far the most common social weapon. Although some types of gossip may help a person’s reputation, the overwhelming majority of the "shock talk" people indulge in is harmful and mean-spirited. To add to the sinister nature of this tactic it is often done behind the target’s back. The scene is familiar to all of us. Aruna spreads a rumour about Kavita to everyone who may be interested and by the time it gets back to Kavita, the damage is done. Kavita then goes to confront Aruna who plays innocent or apologises half-heartedly. But the damage is irreparable. True or not, some people might believe it, others will wonder what to believe and those who know it isn’t true will sit back and hope it all goes away quickly. But the damage cannot be undone. Concocted stories about illicit affairs between two people are very spicy and juicy and people love to hear and talk about it. The thing about rumours and gossip is that no matter how outlandish they are, it is very difficult to prove or disprove. For this reason, once a rumour is set loose, it almost always hits the target in one way or the other. Rumour and gossip are often used as revenge or follow through on a threat. Threat of rumours is often used to get something out of a person, i.e "do this or I will tell everyone." Sometimes people express anger in very passive ways, but sometimes very harmful. Gossip falls into this category where people express this anger but do it in a way that is kind of shielded. There is another way to express anger in this kind of passive way—-by saying things that can be taken in a good way or a bad way. But you are always safe because if a person should pin you down on it and say "I can’t believe you said that about me" you can always say, "Oh no! What I meant was this…." This is called passive aggression and the anger that is coming out is inappropriate.
The workplace rumour mills can grind down employee’s productivity and morale and damage any sense of teamwork. Plus, gossip and rumour may also lead to costly claims and discrimination, harassment and defamation. That is why it is so important that managers and supervisors may make gossip damage control a part of their regular responsibilities. Each one of us deserves to be treated with some level of respect and our privacy should not be invaded by anyone without our permission. The temptation to gossip can be overwhelming if you hear of so-called ‘inappropriate’ behaviour between a man and woman. The scenario that follows will show you how the temptation to gossip can really harm all the parties involved. Yes, the behaviour may be inappropriate but it is not your place to expose this information. By making any mention of what you saw you could lead to life threatening circumstances for both parties involved and you could lose your job because of this harmful chatter. If you tell what you saw and say what you think, you are now adding assumption to the mix. When you combine these elements, you have created a very dangerous and explosive piece of gossip. The way you deal with gossip in the workplace is entirely up to you and your company. But if you are targeted then this is how you could handle it. Do not confront that person in a public place or with an angry tone. Causing a scene and going in the offensive will only make them feel that they were justified in spreading venom.
Rather than running around trying to set the records straight, play it cool. When it gets back to you, laugh lightly and say something like, "is that what is going around about me."?
Spread the gossip your self like "so and so is speaking about me. What a joke!" say it with a smile. Sound calm and confused but not bitter and resentful. If any one asks if the rumour is true, say "no, of course not, but does it really matter what I say?" Do not retaliate with your own gossip. You are better than that.
By and large gossip exists everywhere. In all
places it ruins reputations and spreads fast. You cannot escape it. Gossip can
cause friendships to end and limit new ones. It is easy to judge when it is
not you it’s happening to. If the person you are speaking with is spreading
a lot of gossip about someone, you can rest assured that the same person would
not hesitate to spread gossip about you behind your back also. It takes two
people to gossip. Let us not be one of them. Next time you want know
"who, what, where," then think about how you would feel if people
were talking about you.
needn’t be a bad thing
It's tempting, it's tantalising, and it's in offices big and small. It's office gossip.
"Conventional wisdom tells us that gossip is always bad. (Gossip) is rarely based in truth. It jumps to conclusions. It hurts feelings," says Dr Peter Manzi, Professor and career counsellor at the University of Rochester. "But gossip is also a source of stimulation, a way to cathart, a way to pass dull and uneventful days, often during lunch when one is out of hearing range of 'enemies and the opposition.'"
Gossip makes us feel part of " the loop," and everybody has done it--especially at work. And while gossip is usually a bad thing, there are some exceptions to the rule. The key is learning the difference between professional and personal gossip, and how to handle each.
Gossip can be good
As a recipient of gossip, you can know when people are being promoted, demoted or are quitting altogether, and you can learn about hirings and firings before the official word is out. While it may not be entirely fair to the people being discussed, let's face it—you don't gossip to help others. This is your career we're talking about. Gossip is your "heads-up" to quickly update your resume in your lunch break, or to go ask for that raise when you know the management's defences are down, or at least to be on your best behaviour while your manager considers filling the alleged, soon-to-be-empty position. Even if the gossip you have heard is not true, it can serve as impetus for you to put your best foot forward—never a bad idea.
Another way gossip can help us is when you are the originator of a rumour—but only if it involves you and you alone. This sort of gossip is risky, but it can show you where you stand at work. It allows you to plant the seed that you yourself are considering making a change. It's a way to test the waters with your co-workers and see how it will be received, how "important" you are (or aren't).
It can be as innocent as fishing for an ego boost. Or it can be a way of getting a "warning" to your boss.
Of course, what we are really hoping is that our employer will take it to heart that we are wanted somewhere else, thus increasing our perceived value. Just be prepared for your employer to wish you farewell rather than beg you to stay. Pursue this course of action at your own risk.
On the other hand...
Co-workers often become friends. Friends tend to gossip. And among friends, gossip can become personal.
"It's the old proximity effect—the closer one is to you, the more likely you are to engage with them," says Manzi. When you're spending eight hours or more per day with the same people, you're bound to trade some anecdotes from time to time. Just be careful what you say, and ask yourself what your motives are.
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