What you don’t say, says the most about you.
“Those who gossip to you, gossip about you,” is one of my favorite sayings. I remember it whenever anyone tries to entice me with a piece of gossip. I simply excuse myself. Usually, I say, “You’ll have to excuse me. I don’t know the whole story.” And that’s really the point, isn’t it? We never really know the whole story. So, why do people automatically want to jump on the less flattering and negative side? I guess we know why, and that tells us much about their character.
Our world has never had a greater ability to communicate than we do today. We communicate through social networking, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, texts, emails, and even video chatting, and more. Still, we find gossip and ill-will, more often than not, at the center of communication. Sad. It seems our ability to communicate has unfortunately improved our ability to gossip.
“Gossip is as hard to unspread as butter, ” another of my favorite quotes and it’s as accurate as it is funny. I see too many people’s lives being harmed by gossip and rumoring. Our digital age is adding a permanence to much of it and creating a so-called digital footprint. Leaders must work to take care of their digital footprint and teach future generations to do the same.
Still, gossip is gossip no matter the form. We cannot allow a digital format to hold any more credence than word of mouth especially when its sole purpose is to harm. What we say and do behind others’ backs says more about our own character than it does about the person we are talking about. Gossiping is poison for any organization or leader. There is nothing but trouble to be gained by continuing a rumor or talking poorly about someone.
Parents and educators teach their children not to gossip and organizational leaders must teach it as well.
I encourage leaders to put an end to gossip in their personal lives and in their organization. Teach leadership that discourages all gossip and rumoring. Address it outright by letting your people know, “we don’t talk like that here. That’s not what we’re about.” Don’t assume that it is “understood” that gossiping is against our vision, make it clear.
“A man or woman should always be remembered by their best qualities,” another of my favorite quotes. When something negative comes up about someone else I choose to walk away or mention one of their endearing qualities. You can use a positive phrase to let someone know you’re uninterested in gossiping. For instance, when someone starts with a negative comment you can reply with some positive truth about the person, like, “Well, he sure knows a lot about marketing and gave a fantastic presentation last week.” They will get the idea.
We would think that adults would have a profound understanding about the dangers and improprieties of gossip, but that is sadly not the case. Gossiping about others is bullying, a waste of creative energy, a cause of inefficiency and trouble in the workplace, and a count against a leader’s character.
Leaders make no room for gossip.
Kelly Croy is a professional speaker and speed artist.
He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation
with his art and words.
Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.