Ralph and George are talking in the coffee shop about a coworker who has cuts on her wrists. Without any concrete knowledge, they are speculating about what must be happening in her life. Regardless of the reason behind the cutting, she is not portrayed favorably to them. The speculation or stories they are telling themselves become their truths and they will spread these stories whether true or not. Because it is presented as truth now it becomes easy to share their conversation about her with others; sometimes intentional and other times it is just getting caught up in the culture of conversation.
Gossip—that casual or unrestrained conversation or report about other people without their knowledge. It is generally derogatory and typically involves information that is unconfirmed.
Gossip can spread rapidly and cover a large number of people in a very short time. It can be rumors or facts; either way, they are harmful to those to whom they are about.
Gossip is a reputation thief.
It can destroy a person’s self-confidence and lead to other mental crisis such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and a host of others. Gossipers ruin reputations, alienate friends, and can produce forms of social aggression.
Gossipers can be seen as untrustworthy assassins of character. It is important to remember that the people who spread gossip about others are the ones who will also spread gossip and rumors about you.
In the workplace, gossip attracts both notice and attention, as gossipers like the feeling of being frequently sought out for updates. The break room is an incubator for dishing out some juicy negative tidbit about a mutual coworker or leader. It's easy to get sucked into the conversation, and just as fascinating to watch it come to an abrupt halt when someone else enters. Oops! Focusing on private or personal affairs behind another’s back fractures teams trust and productivity and when it becomes unsafe to discuss common problems or issues about specific individuals or groups, private chats or parking lot talk emerge. If this is not addressed by the leadership and authorities, it will be discussed elsewhere, with no resolution and the workplace will continue to fracture. Leadership and authorities must allow a place for feedback so that it prevents their employees from “going underground” to talk about the problems.
It is no different in family or social settings. Gossip creates fractures, builds coalitions, and breeds a negative atmosphere. Gossip and rumors are threats and shatter precious relationships. Families need to be sanctuaries where people feel the safest. When insults, ridicule, gossip, bullying, and other disparaging remarks are permitted, it becomes a minefield.
So, what do you do with gossip?
If it is you, STOP IT! Stand up and do as much as you can to salvage and protect the ones who are not present from these destructive conversations.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
I understand that eliminating gossip appears to be an impossible task, but simple awareness can help reduce its spread. Be the hero not the goat.
Watch for the blind spots.
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Blind Spots in Relationships
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