Loyalty Leader Quick Tips

Psst! Gossips Can Be Fired

August 17, 2012

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Employees who are gossips can be put on 90-day probation or even fired, according to an article by Harry Wessel. He points out that it is perfectly legal to fire an employee for a bad attitude or gossiping unless there is a union or employment contract setting forth rules on how and under what circumstances workers can be fired. Florida has an “Employment-At-Will” doctrine, which lets companies dismiss workers for any reason.   Gossip can seriously undermine the effectiveness of workplace relationships. There appears to be an increase in workplace gossip, associated with the ongoing restructuring taking place within businesses. As people are working longer hours and coping with an informal communication grapevine, the fine line between what is ethical business information and what is unethical gossip is weakening.   If you venture into the gossip zone, be ready to be re sponsible for creating friction, upheaval and unnecessary anxiety for those who will ultimately get caught in the web you create. It is very difficult to avoid being involved in daily gossip. Personal talk about someone or an employer has become part of the way many people communicate. But once something has been said, it can’t be taken back.   Try practicing gossip avoidance strategies. These strategies will save you time, increase your energy and keep you from hurting someone you work with. Constant workplace change breeds gossip and reduces our energy, respect and credibility. Avoiding gossip means taking a close look at how you currently become involved in gossip. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I initiate discussions about my co-workers job performance or personal lives?
  2. Do I initiate discussions based on second-hand information?
  3. Do I consider the comments I make about others to be of real value to the workplace culture and environment?
  4. Do I repeat personal conversations?
  5. Can I be trusted to ‘keep’ a confidential conversation?
  6. Do I sometimes give confidential information to another because I feel as their “friend” they should know? 

How did you score? Do you need to review your involvement in gossip? You may need to change a few things.A good technique to start with is to figure out what percentage of your day you currently spend in or around the gossip grapevine. Let’s say you spend ten percent of your working day on gossip-related communications. These could be in the form of face-to-face conversations, emails, or telephone conversations. Over the next two weeks gradually reduce that percentage each day. You can do this by gradually cutting out the emails, then the telephone sessions and so on.   Face-to-face gossip is the most difficult area to reduce, particularly if you find it easy to get hooked into your peer group when gossip is on. Attempt to shift the gossip to focus on the business objectives. Try to comment only on the issues and not personal or “hearsay” information. If the pressure is on, simply excuse yourself from the “gossip zone” and get back to work. When you can avoid getting “hooked” by gossip, you will earn the respect of others and be viewed as a trusted team member.  

  1. Quickly praise the person who is being talked about.
  2. Be on the alert in places where gossip spreads, such as the cafeteria, break room, etc.
  3. When approached by a gossiper, start the conversation first to steer it away from gossip.
  4. Tell people that you do not like to gossip and would like their help by not including you in those types of conversations.
  5. If someone shares gossip, you can say, “Really, is that really true? Let’s go and ask that person…”
  6. If you don’t know the person about whom gossip is being shared, you can respond, “I don’t know them and I’m not interested in what they do.”

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