Leaders Address Gossiping During Conflict

I have youth clientele, and I have corporate clientele.

When the concept of gossiping comes up with young people, I hear comments like, “I can’t wait until I’m done with high school so I can be done with all this gossip and drama.”

Oh, dear young friends. Should I tell them the truth, or let them discover it on their own? It never ends. We just get better at dealing with it.

Workplaces are loaded with gossip, and it’s one of the more insidious ways teams are torn down and credibility is damaged.

Gossip gets justified as “healthy venting” or “just talking about the situation with someone in case they have ideas on how to fix it.”

But venting is rarely healthy; negative talk breeds negative thoughts. It backfires.

And rarely do we actually go back to the absent person we’re gossiping about to resolve the issue. We shrug, say “What’s the point?”, assume negative intent, and get back to work. The situation is now worse, and you’ve brought others into it.

Gossiping can feel good. Venting frustrations can be cathartic in the short term. We tend to gossip with people we trust, so they usually validate our opinion. It can also be deeply satisfying to tear down someone who has hurt us.

But gossip is also about consolidating power. It rallies people to our side. We get our side of the story in the open earlier than the other side. If we want to impress others with our status, gossiping can create false authority as our coworkers turn to us for inside knowledge.

What to do?

Ask yourself–or others who are gossiping–which of these two things is going on?

  1. Healthy venting and exploration of an issue to resolve, with full intention of sharing this concern with the absent person.
  2. The satisfaction of finding fault in another, and/or maintaining our position as a source of information.

This is the 10th post in an 18-part series discussing what not to do during conflict situations. Effective leaders avoid portraying these 18 behaviors during conflict and address them in others. Follow along as we explore the negative impact of these behaviors, and what to do instead. 

Post 1: Leaders Address Arguing During Conflict
Post 2: Leaders Address Belittling During Conflict
Post 3: Leaders Address Caving In During Conflict
Post 4: Leaders Address Being Defensive During Conflict   
Post 5: Leaders Address Dismissing Others’ Opinions During Conflict 
Post 6: Leaders Address Drama During Conflict
Post 7: Leaders Address Exaggerating During Conflict 
Post 8: Leaders Address Exclusion During Conflict 

Post 9: Leaders Address Finger-Pointing During Conflict

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