In a new study by Tim Hallet gossip is found to be dangerous. Gossip can hamper someone’s ability to manage people, obliterate camaraderie and promote turnover. Tim Hallet is a sociologist and published the finding of his study in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. He says gossip is “reputational warfare” and it exists everywhere in an organization.
Hallett’s insights come from a year observing teachers and administrators in a public elementary school and then recording meetings. By analyzing the videos, he saw that even in formal meetings gossip occurred. Most of the gossip was negative, and directed at the school’s new leader. Whether direct or indirect the trash talk was damaging and was meant to weaken the principal.
The lesson…manage gossip before it manages you!
7 Tips on managing gossip:
- Develop informal relationships to understand the pulse of the organization.
- Utilize gossip to learn about problems in the workplace. Gossip can be a type of teacher.
- Don’t become defensive that will only serve to fuel the trash talk.
- Do not support the negative comments with other negative; that only legitimizes the gossip and lowers your own standing.
- Try switching topics. Go back to the main goal or the agenda if in a meeting.
- Productively confront an individual to understand why they are behaving that way.
- Worst case scenario let the worst offender go. Gossip and bad behavior is like a cancer in an organization. It will only spread if gone unchecked.