Every organization has its gossipers. Usually, it’s an innocent part of organizational life – you see Joan in the break room and one thing leads to another, including a little buzz about what’s happening in the marketing department.
Other times, though, there are certain people who feel it’s their personal mission to find out everything that’s going on. They will do whatever they can to “dig for dirt” even where no dirt exists.
It’s human nature to want to be in the know, and effective leaders make the time to keep information flowing officially ahead of the rumor mill.
Some office whisperers make it their mission to advise senior people about what they heard in the grapevine. You need to receive this information with the right filters. Why would someone feel compelled to voluntarily do this? What’s in it for them?
Leaders need to be wary of what they hear from these sources as their “information” may be misleading or misguided or even self-serving.
Importantly, you don’t want the rumor mill to displace your role to communicate what your staff needs to know and when it’s appropriate to disseminate this information.
When you share news or new information on a timely basis, you can stay ahead of the whisperers and diffuse the chatter going on behind the scenes.
This may seem counterintuitive, but leaders should be aware of where gossip emanates in their companies. Furthermore, you need to shut down blatant untruths immediately. Most gossip revolves around people and the rumor mill can be hurtful to people who are the victims of inaccurate chatter.
And it may be obvious, but don’t participate as a gossiper. You’ll lose credibility as a leader, and it will take a huge amount of time to regain confidence as an effective communicator.
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