The Lure of Gossip | Commitments of Conscious Leadership #5
As we continue in the commitment to conscious leadership there is an important topic that needs to be addressed – the lure of gossip. Whether you are a single practitioner or have a team, gossip is a key indicator of an unhealthy company culture. Engaging in stories about others uses a great deal of mental and emotional energy that could be more productively used for creating positive solutions and moving your business forward.
Gossip is a part of our culture. Just look at tabloid magazines, television, and tell-all books. It can also become an accepted activity in many businesses or organizations. To clarify what we mean by gossip the CLG (Conscious Leadership Group) defines it as any statement made about another by someone with negative intent, as well as any statement about another that the speaker would not be willing to share in exactly the same way if the person were standing in front of them. They lack curiosity and instead take on the part of victim, villain, or hero.
But those who listen to gossip are also responsible. Without a “receiver” the gossip goes nowhere.
When you find yourself in the position of gossiping, stop and ask yourself if it is because you are not willing to tell the truth to that person. Or is it because you don’t know of a healthy way to release negative energy? Or, as is often the case, it is because it takes too long to thoughtfully process the information and feelings and share them with that person?
Gossiping can become addicting because of its entertainment value and too often it’s easy to get pulled in. People often get “hooked” because of a variety of reasons: to prove others wrong, to gain validation, to control others, to get attention, to divert attention from themselves, or to avoid conflict.
If you find yourself going down this path, ask yourself two things. Is there negative intent? If so, you are gossiping. Would you be willing to say the same thing in the same way directly to the person involved? If no, you are gossiping.
Being a good listener is extremely important in effective communication – as is being able to have honest conversations with others. It is also important to be able to separate “fact” from “story” – with facts being what a video camera would have recorded – the written or verbal description objectively stated without opinion creeping in and “story” including opinions, beliefs, interpretations, judgments, motivations, and assumption. Along with being able to separate fact from story, it is important to be open and curious enough to listen to both and hold an open and honest discussion as well as being sure each party is clear that what they heard was truly what the other person said.
This is a subject that is very important to address with your team to be sure you create a culture free of gossip where your team realizes the value of speaking candidly and replacing gossip with a focus on creative energy and productive collaboration.