Solution Saturday: Gossip in a Small Business

Dear Dan,

I have recently entered a new job and have really seen the negative influence gossip is having. Not really sure what to do being the newbie?

What are you thoughts?

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It matters:

Vibrant organizations build, nurture, and protect positive environments.

Language forms environments.

Protecting vibrancy includes minimizing destructive language.

Active approach:

If you’re a new leader, you have an opportunity to address latent issues from a learner’s point of view.

  1. Determine if the issue is really important. If it’s just a feeling, don’t bring it up. Is there tangible impact?
  2. Before dealing with any organizational issue, define and describe what you want. It’s one thing to attack gossip, but another to pursue vibrant environments. Describe what you want in terms of positive behaviors.
  3. Model positive behaviors.
  4. Schedule one-on-ones with influencers.
  5. Explain your observation and aspiration. “I’m seeing lots of gossip…. I need us to ….”
  6. Seek input. “How are you seeing this issue?”
  7. Establish accountability around positive behaviors, “I expect you to ….”
  8. Prepare to be the brunt of gossip, if you bring up gossip.
  9. Deal with it publicly if the issue is pervasive. Exhibit humility and humor. “Everyone seems to know everything about everybody around here. You can’t go to the bathroom without someone sending a text message.”
  10. Deal with it privately and aggressively, if the problem is isolated to a select few. “This is going to stop.”

Malicious gossips:

Deal firmly and privately with malicious gossips. Don’t go public. Don’t use the 10 steps listed above.

Alternative: Become a gossip:

  1. How might you keep your finger on the pulse of your organization by listening to gossip?
  2. How might you keep gossips in the loop?
  3. How might you leverage what you hear for good?

New and not the leader:

Don’t bring up gossip, if leadership doesn’t care.

  1. Grow a thick skin.
  2. Don’t participate.
  3. Don’t be a tattletale.
  4. Don’t be aloof.
  5. Be a force of positivity.
  6. Build strong relationships with influencers.
  7. Practice positive candor. When you hear gossip in private, speak it with humor in public. “I heard…”

What suggestions do you have for dealing with gossip?

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