How harmful gossip threatens culture: 3 ways to avoid a culture of doubt

“Hey, did you hear what happened in the lunch room yesterday? You are not going to believe this.”

We have all been subject to gossip at work. It happens in between meetings, through chat sessions and emails, and is almost impossible to avoid – until you realize how harmful gossip threatens corporate culture, and eventually transforms the workplace into a culture of doubt. A culture of doubt is characterized by ongoing miscommunications, decreased retention, and low employee morale at the workplace – and must be reconciled in order for employees to drive results necessary for the organization’s success.

In the recent Forbes article, The Fastest Way to Kill Corporate Culture, contributor Mike Myatt describes the negative implications of allowing gossip in the workplace. Myatt defines gossip as: “talking about a situation with somebody who is neither a part of the solution nor a part of the problem,” and provides clarity to distinguish healthy forms of communication versus the act of propagating inaccurate information. Myatt even categorizes gossip as the “highest form of disloyalty” and determines that nothing can “claim more tainted professional reputations, destroyed friendships, and polluted corporate cultures than gossip.”

An organization that allows gossip to thrive within the workforce is not focused on direct two-way communication, because the gossip source is generally not included in the conversation, leading to zero resolutions and a slew of accumulated rumors. Gossip is what transforms a Culture of Recognition into a culture of doubt, which results in an unpleasant domino effect: decreased retention and employee morale.

Here are three ways that you can avoid a culture of doubt and curtail gossip at work, and transform it into direct two-way communication that helps build a Culture of Recognition:

  1. Go directly to the problem source instead of seeking advice from others (gossip in disguise) to solve the issue:

There is a possibility that whomever you have a problem with is completely in the dark, so set aside some time to chat with your coworker about your issues and be direct. Your coworker will appreciate that you addressed your issues in private, and is likely to be receptive and want to work towards a solution.

  1. Use timely communication to build solid relationships based on trust, making good decisions, and striving to help others succeed:

Use timely communication to discuss progress, goals, new ideas, constructive feedback, and more. A Culture of Recognition thrives from integrated workforce that practices timely communication and, as a result, builds strong relationships. Allowing gossip in the workplace will hinder trust-based relationships, and is detrimental to sustaining a healthy corporate culture.

  1. Do not tolerate or participate in gossip, negative innuendos, or any other round about form of communication based on hearsay and rumors:

Myatt compares gossip in the workplace to swimming with sharks, albeit a bit extreme, but emphasizes the importance of leaders abstaining from gossip. If you find yourself amidst a

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