7 Ways to Gossip Like a Leader

Malicious gossip builds silos and weakens relationships.

There’s research that says gossip has a good side. But I’ve heard people crying in their cubicles because of rumors.

Teams move in the direction of their conversations.

Playful gossip:

Friends talk openly about each other’s weaknesses because they accept each other. “Yes, Fred sucks with details.” 

  • You say it to their face and sometimes to others.
  • You smile when you mention their weaknesses.
  • It’s combined with respect for strengths and affirmations. Relationships that center on weaknesses are dark, not playful.

The danger of playful gossip is others hear your words but don’t see your heart. They might assume malice.

Even though there are dangers, playful gossip is usually respectful and helpful. But never use it as an excuse for tearing someone down.

7 ways to gossip like a leader:

  1. The person is in the room. If you have to whisper, it’s probably malicious.
  2. Strive to make something better.
  3. Focus on something that actually happened – not motives.
  4. Focus on behaviors not character.
  5. Discuss an action plan with a wise adviser, coach, or mentor.
  6. Help someone self-reflect, not speculate about others.
    • How do YOU feel?
    • What is your intent?
    • What’s next?
  7. Focus on the future, rather than camping in the past.

Leaderly language:

Leaders use words to bring people together and strengthen relationships. Malicious gossips weaken relationships.

Malicious gossips gather supporters and weakens teams.

4 ways to answer malicious gossip:

  1. You seem to think things are bad. If things were better, what would be true for you?
  2. What do you want me to think when you talk about Fred?
  3. I’m just wondering what you’re trying to accomplish by telling me this?
  4. I’m curious. What would you like to do about this?

Malicious gossips place personal interests above organizational advantage.

What differences do you see between playful and malicious gossip?

How might leaders deal with malicious gossip?