Is gossiping a comfort food?

November 28, 2011 · by Allison Porter · Filed Under Choices · Leave a Comment

Nothing like thanksgiving to remind us that not all food that tastes good is good for us.  Yes, in the aftermath of our national celebration of gluttony, I am reflecting on the feel good and ultimately unattractive nature of gossiping.  Family occasions are times for catching up – with the people you love and about the people you love.  But this indulgent habit is not limited to special occasions or reserved for family.   Gossip at work can become part of the everyday diet – and it isn’t pretty.

gos·sip/ˈgäsip/ Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.

Gossip is tempting for at least a couple of reasons. One is the pure satisfaction of learning private information about people you know.  Particularly if we feel the information advantages us in some way. The other is the bond that sharing this “forbidden” information can create for the gossipers.

What occurs to me is that – like pecan pie and sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping – some indulgences have consequences.

What’s bad about gossip?  One, it can be untrue.  That alone can be an injustice and a disservice. Two, it can take irrelevant information – about what people do outside of work – and make it relevant to how people are viewed at work.  And three, it can create cliques and in-group behaviors that undermine the ability of people to work together.

Leaders set the example when it comes to gossip.  If you are not interested in hearing it and never share it; if you put a stop to it when you come across it; if you remind people about the value of integrity, honesty and respect – then there will be a dramatic decrease in the volume of gossip.  Think of the time that you save!

And this will be a relief to everyone, because we all know that we are only immune from being the subject of gossip until we leave the room.


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