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Tainted Gossip: Are You a Victim or a Perpetrator?

My favourite aunt was my “seat of wisdom.” One of her memorable sayings was, “If you cannot say something nice then shut-up.” She was a feisty old lady and I miss her dearly. Are you a gossiper?

True, not all gossip is tainted, but it is still gossip nonetheless. For example, “Did you hear Judy is pregnant?” This seems innocent enough to discuss. But it can be good or bad. Our society loves the negative and the chatter. But so much gossip can negatively impact your workplace and well-being. Do you know if you are a victim, a perpetrator, or both?

It is easy to say, “Do not gossip”, but it is hard to practice. When passing on unnecessary, non-work information between employees, we are gossiping; tainted or not. I have a great deal of respect for my employees who keep their personal and work life separated and I am always amazed that even though this divide exists, I am aware of when their personal life impacts their work life. They ensure that I am aware when they need me to know about some issue, problem or event. We have been through illness, spousal death, family death, births, marriages and the ups and downs of life together. This type of sharing is not gossip, it is simply providing personal information that we need to know about, both as an employer and as a confident.

I appreciate when an employee approaches me with a concern of a colleague that they feel I need to know about. In our discussion, it may be that there is a need for understanding and accommodation of work tasks. This information comes from caring enough about the organization to ensure its well-being and productivity. This is not gossip either.

It is the meaningless nonsense that can be so upsetting. The comments about a purchase, a life decision, a mate, or an item of clothing. So many opinions that people should really just keep to themselves. The good news is that you do not have to like who you work with, you do not need to socialize with them, but you are required to respect them as a human being. We all get caught in gossip and we are all gossiped about; time to make a change. Stop the gossip and start with yourself!


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