Gossip: The Career Saboteur

I’m frequently asked to conduct training on how to repair and move past gossip-rooted conflict in the workplace. Though no one wants to admit to contributing, what may not feel like gossip often is. Somewhere along the line, someone said something, or was accused of saying something, or overheard something that started toxicity in the group. This cycle happens in every workplace from regulatory to religious institutions, hospitals to high schools and even among all ages and genders. But did you know that you can stop this career saboteur? Yes, you! The cycle will eventually come knocking at your door and you need to shut it down before it derails your professional aspirations.

A client of mine has a barometer that she uses to determine whether or not information she’s been told should be shared: “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” Imagine if we considered these three questions before passing along what could turn out to be potentially harmful information. But stopping this career saboteur takes courage, and that isn’t always easy when there’s politics, peer pressure, angst or boredom involved. These are four environments that breed gossip and one misplaced word could cost you professionally. So here are a few questions to keep in mind before you spread the word. If you answer “Yes” to any of the following questions, the information probably should NOT be shared.

 

  1. Will anyone be hurt when I share this information?
  2. Is my urge to share this information fueled boredom or peer pressure?
  3. Would I be uncomfortable sharing this information with the whole team?
  4. Would my supervisor be disappointed in me for sharing this information?
  5. Will my career be negatively impacted?
  6. Will I regret tomorrow sharing this today?
  7. Would I prefer someone not share this information about me?
  8. Is this information hearsay?
  9. Is the person who shared this with me known as a gossip?
  10. Could spreading this information cost me my job?

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