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Is Workplace Gossip Bad? I Hate It – But Not Always….

Workplace Gossip Can Be Positive

This Kind of Gossip Can Change Lives as Well!

You can usually tell when it is happening – one person is hunched over the other whispering into their ear as both of them share expressions of disgust or confusion or maybe even glee.

I have dedicated several popular posts over the last number of years on the damaging effects of gossip – see “Do you or someone you know gossip at work? Very Practical Story” and “Judging Others Can Make You Look Stupid! Powerful Video.”

It is challenging enough for leaders to create a work environment where people feel safe and can do their work without the high school politics of their past. Gossip at work is a big problem, and I really truly believe leaders should do everything they can to squash it’s poisoning and harmful influence.

However, there is one type of gossip I don’t condemn and that is positive gossip. The Canadian Mental Health Association has suggested that one way to minimize the spread of negative gossip is to promote the sharing of positive gossip.

Share with those you lead that they can gossip their hearts away, but only if they are talking about the good things others are doing – not spreading rumors or getting caught up in and snickering about another’s misfortunes.

As a leader, start by setting the example yourself. Start by talking about the strengths of those that lead you. Then talk about the strengths of those you lead and your colleagues. Shout about the successes others are having, even the small ones.

People will start to see you in a completely different way as a leader as you spread the positive things. You may even notice those you lead gossiping about your successes – imagine that?

As you and those you lead begin to change from talking bad about others and instead are looking for the good, you will begin to see big changes in trust, communication and job satisfaction.

Here are a few examples of positive gossip – one in regards to work and the other a little more personal.

“Did you hear how well Mary did on her results today? We sure are lucky to have her on our team, she really goes the extra mile in everything she does.”

“Did you hear that Mark just lost 50 lbs in the last six months! That is impressive and takes a lot of discipline, and I know he worked really hard at it. I am so proud of him.”

Start today with you, and then create the expectations for positive gossip in others. Think about the difference such comments and positive gossip would make on your own teams and in your organizations. Positive gossip beats negative gossip any day of the week. Time to go spread some positive!

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