Gossip may seem like a quick way to bond with co-workers, but research shows that gossipers are perceived as unlikeable and lacking social influence. Prolific gossipers were liked less than non-gossipers, and negative gossipers were liked least of all. Still, gossip proliferates when mistrust of formal workplace channels is high, and when workers feel they have few opportunities to directly raise sensitive issues.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, author and social scientist John Grenny, points out that, ironically, the more gossip is used, the more the need for it is reinforced: “Risk-free yakking about problems temporarily distracts us from our sense of responsibility to solve them.”
How to change the culture? Grenny says:
We want to hear. How do you react when a co-worker wants to share gossip? What outlets, if any, does your organization offer as a way to air grievances, concerns, and sensitive issues other than gossip? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion.