I love Spotify, and Audible, and Alexa…. I might be an Old Dog, but I love the new tricks technology keeps throwing down. Spotify reconnected me to all kinds of hits from the 70’s that still hold up. Carly Simons’ signature song and Linda Ronstandts’ double lament bring back memories of private mix tapes and long summer nights (Back in the old days – we had to spend hours making playlists by hand with turntables and tape decks 😊)
But enough ancient history, let’s talk about Gossip, what it is and what it is not and why and how you can discourage toxic chatter and encourage positive banter.
Websters defines Gossip as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.” Momma always asked, “would you say that to her face?” and it’s called a guilty pleasure because it makes us feel better about ourselves but deep down, we know it’s wrong.
Spilling the beans about something true but not widely known or “Official” yet might be awkward but it is not gossip. On the other hand, conversations that can impact safety, or can be construed to be harassing, discriminatory or dealing with immutable things like race or sex and could be actionable should be addressed both by policy and if there is an occurrence of such conduct.
Obviously, seek legal counsel in reviewing your handbook as policies on gossip that are overly restrictive might run afoul of the NLRB.
Clear communication across your organization, as much transparency as you can muster, coupled with consistent treatment of individuals and situations is the best sunlight to reduce the toxic effect of bad banter. Obviously not everything can be shared with everyone, but the practical effect of giving everyone a good reputation to live up to fosters a level of openness that creates virtuous circles rather than vicious cycles. This approach can be applied to budgets, financial performance, strategy, direction, ops reviews, you name it.
Finally, expressing gratitude for work well done, public praise of consistent effort and highlighting extraordinary effort, coupled with kind candor when holding people accountable is the straw that stirs the drink rather than breaking the camel’s back.
Stay Thankful my friends!
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