We all want to be seen as the consummate professional, yet it’s almost impossible to stay away from gossip. Sharing it, listening to it or believing it (when it’s negative) all constitute career-derailing gossip. It’s just not professional. And when your hand (or words) gets caught in the “gossip cookie jar,” the only one to blame is you. Here are three measures that will help you determine whether it’s prudent to share something about someone else:
- Is it true? Much of what is shared in the form of gossip is untrue. It’s either stretched truth or hearsay. So why would you need to share it? Rather, get the facts and determine (based on the other measures) whether these facts need to be relayed.
- Is it kind? There is such a thing as kind gossip. But we mostly hear the polar opposite. Don’t derail your career just because you heard something “juicy” and need to pass it on. If it’s good news, that’s a completely different situation, but determining that isn’t always up to you. Before you share kind gossip, make sure that you examine the truth from all sides and how it could impact another’s career.
- Is it necessary? Does what you want to share really need to be shared? If you examine gossip at its roots, it’s often used as a temporary state of false security and elevation. The key words are “temporary” and “false.” Sometimes it helps people feel better about their own insecurities or a way to be included in a group. Typically, there is no good reason to gossip. Therefore it’s unnecessary. Just like your mama once told you, “If your friends love gossip, what are they saying about you?” Human nature never changes. Perhaps it’s time to pick new friends.
I’d like to take the credit for these pearls of wisdom, but I owe these measures to a talented and very professional executive support professional (shout out: Marilyn) who also believes that gossip is career-derailing.