How to Gossip Like a Leader
Slander and backstabbing are destructive, but there’s a healthy side to gossip.
When you say, “Your reputation precedes you,” you acknowledge the power of gossip. Gossip is one reason businesses grow or fail.
Researchers define gossip as talking about someone who isn’t present. It might be positive, negative, or neutral.
The truth about gossip:
Megan Robbins and Alexander Karan observe that…
- Extroverts gossip more than introverts.
- Women engage in more neutral gossip than men.
- Younger people lean toward negative gossip more than older people.
- Most gossip tends to be neutral – social information.
- Gossip indicates closeness. We gossip with people we like.
- We like to gossip because possessing secrets is powerful.
- Generous, moral people are most likely to pass along rumors. (It’s often driven by concern for others.)
The value of gossip:
Dunbar’s research suggests that gossip strengthens social bonds. About 5% of gossip deals with freeloaders.
We police freeloaders – those who take benefit without paying – when someone says, “You better watch out for Billy Bob, he’ll take advantage of you.”
Feinberg, Willer, and Schulz suggest that we use gossip to protect people we care about by exposing self-serving people.
My friend, Bob Burg coined the phrase, “Reverse gossip.” You might practice reverse gossip at the beginning of your next meeting.
Ask your team to say something good about team members who aren’t in the room.
Five gossip guidelines:
- Never reveal a secret you have promised to keep.
- Avoid negative speculations about people’s motives.
- Don’t put someone down to elevate your status, ever.
- Only pass along reliable information. Stick with your personal experience.
- Say good stuff about people who aren’t in the room, a lot!
It’s possible to gossip your way to success.
How might leaders leverage the power of reverse gossip?
It’s a party… and you’re invited!
Mark your calendar for Monday, Jan 24 at 2 PM, ET to join me in the celebration of Mark Miller’s 10th leadership book. I will be hosting this special event, and Mark will be giving away prizes. He’s also giving away several copies of new Smart Leadership in Action Journal!
Register here: https://bit.ly/3yMLpxY
Positive gossip about yourself when you were the one not in the room is a tremendous confidence builder. It makes you feel appreciated, needed, and part of the team. It can also change the opinion you held of the one who said it.
Thanks Peter. Just imagine a team member saying, “We talked about you in our meeting today.” And then finding out that it was good!
When gossip comes up, it is important to encourage to not only speak “about” people, but also “with” people. Gossip without direct feedback to the person in focus is potentially problematic, irrespective of its positive, neutral or negative pitch.
Thanks Klaus. So glad you joined in today. We don’t want people speculating. Share the good because we tend to think the worst.
Gossip wears many hats, the driver determines/influences the direction it takes.
it all depends on how you gossip!