Most people would deny indulging in workplace gossip. However, Deborah Grayson Riegel, a communication coach and instructor at Wharton Business School, says people engage in this destructive practice without realizing it. If you have ever participated in a “confirmation expedition” by asking a colleague to confirm your negative experience of a third party (”Have you noticed Sam in accounting never replies to emails?”), or welcomed a similar inquiry from a coworker, you could be contributing to a climate of eroding trust, hurt feelings, damaged reputations, and divisiveness—in other words, you might be gossiping.
Gossip is a way of bonding by excluding others, of venting, and of validating our own beliefs, so the urge to engage in it is strong. But talking behind backs undermines an open, honest culture. How can we stop doing something wrong that feels so right? Riegel has this advice:
Have you ever interacted with a colleague regarding negative impressions about a coworker? How might that conversation have been more productive? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.