Friday, November 6, 2009

Resisting the Urge to Gossip

Gossip is an informal means of sharing information and gathering power that has probably been around since hominids started talking to each other. In the modern organization, vindictive gossip is often an indicator of underlying chronic conflict. The antidote is simple and complicated: leadership not management. We manage things and lead people. So the idea that "managers" can "manage away" the problem of gossip and the underlying conflict will only prolong and exacerbate the problem. What can leaders do to slow down gossip? First, leaders have to model the behavior and action they wish their organization to follow. In my organizational conflict work, I am amazed at how people in leadership positions think that they are above the rules. They usually do not realize that the higher they are, the more people there are to take their social clues from leadership actions and behaviors. Second, be aware of and sensitive to conflicts in the organization. Most conflicts are subtle and hidden, and a good leader will realize this. Look for the person that is bitter, jealous, unhappy, frustrated, or acting victimized and find out what is going on. By acknowledging the conflict, oftentimes the problem will solve itself. Finally, be transparent, authentic, and open about everything. Even if information cannot be revealed, say that and explain why. Vindictive gossip is a good indicator of deeper problems needing leadership attention. Don't stop the gossip; work on the conflict.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost


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