Dave Ramsey describes gossip this way:
Gossip is complaining about a problem to people who can’t do anything about it.
Working in, and leading organizations for the last 25 years has given me a first-row seat to gossip and its nefarious effects. Whether you are a leader or an employee, here are some reasons why gossip should be at the top of the list of things to be avoided—right next to cancer and being a fan of the Red Sox.
1. Gossip kills organizational culture.
People that complain kill healthy culture. Imagine it this way: your values and vision are like delicious enchiladas. Your organizational culture is like the plate the enchiladas are served in. (Feeling hungry yet?) Gossip is like rat droppings on the side of the plate. No matter how many vision statements, mission initiatives or printed goals you have, if you have rat droppings on the plate no one is happy! Your job as a leader is to eliminate the droppings.
2. Gossip focuses on the problem, not solutions.
Notice how chronic gossipers concentrate on complaining rather than finding solutions. You are hired to fix problems not just to complain about them. Gossipers seldom go to work on the problem or direct their complaints to people that can fix the problem. I believe from experience that they get a sense of power and control when they are in the possession of some information no one else has. More of a power trip than a conscious desire to help.
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3. Gossip is a masquerade.
People that talk about other people reveal deep insecurities and possibly unresolved hurt. I have never met a gossiper (not an exaggeration, an actual fact) who did not have something to hide. Since it takes one to know one, usually people judge in others what they most struggle with themselves. Gossipers are full of secrets. Their house has a lot of closet space.
What can we do:
1. Repent. We have all gossiped one time or another. The first step is to admit it and repent.
2. Confront. When you hear someone gossiping you can throw gas or water into the fire. Confront the gossip. My mom had a notebook where she asked church gossipers to write down complaints. Its pages remained mainly blank because gossipers didn’t have the courage to push their agenda when it meant recording their complaints. If you allow gossipers to share with you with no push back, they will confuse your listening with consent, and use you in their conversations with others.
3. Release. One gossiper can bring down the morale of many. In the church, we usually hire fast and fire slowly when it should be the other way around. The difference between dissent and gossip is a plan. Gossipers just want to complain. No need for that. We teach people how to treat others. By not confronting and releasing we affirm gossip as an acceptable value.
How do you deal with gossip? Share in the comment section below.