My CEO recently asked each staff member to respond to several questions that would help him gauge staff feelings on a few issues.
One question was: Use three words to describe our office culture. Being the verbose person I am, I used three hyphenated words, one of which being gossip-filled.
I think most workplaces are driven by gossip. The grapevine is a main source of communication. In some ways it’s harmless — hey, there’s really awesome muffins in the kitchen — and in other ways it’s very harmful — hey, did you hear? There’s going to be lay-offs again.
The harmful gossip is what causes me to worry, often needlessly. After all, who really “heard” there would be lay-offs? You never know the source, and therefore, you never know the truth. As we all know, in many instances, gossip is more false that true.
A recent Yoga Journal article got me to thinking more about this. It contends that “gossip is one of our most widely shared — and, often, most unconscious — addictions.” The article goes on to challenge readers to think about the gossip in their lives and work to refrain from the harmful side of the habit.
After reading it, I decided to spend an average workday tracking how I gossip and making an effort to control myself. And I made it about two hours. But then, Coworker A was really annoying me and I just had to tell Coworker B about it. After that, Coworker C and I were chatting about a project and discussing why Coworker D was handling it all wrong.
Days later, I can’t honestly remember who any of these coworkers were, which proves that it really is useless chatter. Useless chatter that serves to slowly kill my insides and make me all glass-half-empty and cynical.
I don’t think I’ll ever overcome my urge to vent or indulge in a juicy tidbit, but I am still making a conscious effort to be aware of what I’m allowing myself to speak and hear and to recognize when something is harmful.
I figure it’s nearly impossible to fully overcome my tendency for gossip, and equally impossible to shut out the gossip of others, but I think it is possible to be more aware of it and how it affects my daily life. And if you have any tips for keeping your gossipy feelings to yourself, I’d love to hear!