Tip #8–Avoid Gossip

Posted on May 30, 2007. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Management development |

Gossip is a credibility robber every singe time we participate. Even if the gossip is particularly tantalizing, making a personal commitment to avoid gossip will enhance our professional reputations. And eventually people will stop bringing us all those juicy items, thereby releasing us from even having to be involved.

I’m asked repeatedly whether gossip can ever work to our advantage. In a nutshell, no. When you hear the word “gossip,” do you think positive, uplifting, good news is about to come your way? Or do you think you are about to hear something negative and tantalizing about someone? Yup, it’s the negative stuff that gets gossiped about.

People rarely if ever spread positive gossip (that’s what one interviewer called it during our phone conversation for a magazine article). Usually it’s the negative stuff that gets spread like wild fire. And the usual experience when gossip is being spread is this: when the topic of that gossip enters the room, the conversation stops. Why? Because we don’t want the topic of the gossip to catch us talking about him (or her).

Gossip usually takes place in hushed voices or in private locales–precisely because we do not want it to be overheard. And yet … gossip is passed from one person to another evolving and changing the story as it travels.

If you’ve been the topic of gossip (and who hasn’t at one point or another?), you know what it feels like to find out that your personal life and experience has been passed around without your permission. Shame on the person who started the process. But shame on us, too, for trusting people we shouldn’t have with the details of our lives.

For your part–and your career, make a pact with yourself to avoid participating in gossip like it was the plague. When the Office Gossip (yes, this person is well known in our offices) starts to tell you a juicy story about someone else, ask that person where they got their information and whether this is something they should be telling you. Since the Office Gossip has a reputation for spreading gossip, you run the risk of having your reputation tainted by associating with them.

Protect yourself and your career by steering clear of office gossip. Your credibility depends on it!

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