Speak your peace: Don’t gossip
By Amber Kiggens-Leifheit
MACF Executive Director
The Marshfield Area Community Foundation sponsors the Speak Your Peace Civility Project. The basic principles are simple and straightforward and involve the idea that it is often not what is said but how it is said that initiates conflict. The more we all learn about polite, civil discussion is a good thing. It is worth a try, and it may help bring our community together. This week we will examine: Don’t Gossip.
The dictionary tells us that “gossip” is defined as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.” During World War II, “Loose lips sink ships,” was a popular phrase on posters reminding servicemen and other citizens to avoid careless talk concerning secure information that might be useful to the enemy. Here, the outcome was that careless talk would cost lives.
In 2008 Sam Chapman banned all gossip at his Chicago firm, Empower Public Relations. Each of the company’s employees agreed that when an employee said something negative behind another employee’s back, he or she would be required to repeat that gossip to the person’s face. This was a drastic solution to a common workplace problem. A recent survey named gossip as the No. 1 pet peeve at work.
Gossip is part of every organizational culture. Some argue that it is simply idle conversation that helps to keep employees informed while others see gossip as a time-wasting activity that can be destructive to the culture and relationships.
How do you feel when you hear gossip? What could you do to stop the gossip and encourage the flow of facts?
P.M. Forni suggests:
—Say something positive about the victim, or change the subject.
—Openly communicate to the attacker that you are not comfortable discussing this. “It doesn’t seem fair to make those allegations in her absence. Does it?” This option is obviously the most direct and maybe the hardest.
If you are interested to learn more, visit marshfieldareacommunityfoundation.org/index.php?page=speak-your-peace, or give us a call at 715-384-9029.