Eliminate gossip? Yes please!
In Gossip Unpacked: Part One I broke down some of the basics about gossip. Below I’ll dig into five practices for a eliminating gossip.
Created shared agreements often start with shared definitions. Guide your team through defining gossip and discuss examples of what gossip is and isn’t. In Gossip Unpacked: Part One I shared the Merriam Webster and Cambridge definitions of gossip. There’s also a useful definition in The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership:
“Any statement about another made by someone with negative intent, or any statement about another that the speaker would be unwilling to share in exactly the same way if that person were in the same room.”
Once you have a shared definition, ask if people are willing to commit to ending gossip on your team or in your organization.
When I started training my dog, Guinness, the trainer was clear: If you’re going to take something away that he shouldn’t have make sure to give him something he can have. Exchange my shoe for a chew toy.
When we “take gossip away”, we need to replace it with something else.
When I saw Guinness with a chew toy instead of a shoe (or other objects) it was important to celebrate success and say “yes!” or “good!” When he chose the vacuum cord, I took a deep breath, said “no” and gave him a chew toy.
Behavior generally doesn’t change overnight. Of course I can think of exceptions, but they’re exceptions not the norm.
That means, people need praise when they’re on track and redirection when they’re off track. People need tools, resources and guidance for the new behaviors. They also need a safe space to process failed attempts, difficulties, etc.
Whether we like it or not, leaders set the stage. What we ask of others we must be willing to do ourselves.
Often what I observe is a leader that touts a zero tolerance policy for gossip, but lacks the self awareness to know when he or she is engaging in gossip and they get defensive when someone points out their behavior.
It’s a sad story, but one that occurs quite often. Leaders have to go first by modeling ideal behaviors, admitting when they screw up and making amends quickly.
When you hear gossip happening, here are a few options:
Be mindful of the “I’m just venting” trap. There’s an effective and ineffective way to vent. This response is a common tactic to defend and justify gossiping.
Eliminating gossip is a tall order, but one that will radically improve the quality of relationships in your workplace as well as productivity, trust, connection and so much more! Give these practices a go and let us know what’s working, not working, challenging, etc.