We have a problem with constant gossiping and backbiting in our office. It has gotten to the point where my job is no longer enjoyable. Why does this go on and what can I do to end it?
This type of behavior is so irritating! Why do people participate in it? Typically, it’s caused by insecurity; whether the insecurity is a facet of the gossiper’s personality or is created by lack of solid communication from the management team.
Gossips enjoy the power they accrue from being the source of information. Their self-esteem gets a boost from being the go-to person for the inside scoop. If the gossiper attempts to draw you in, be very direct in telling him or her that you aren’t interested in conversations that could be harmful to other people.
As a manager, if the gossiper brings you information about work issues, ask for specifics: When did this happen? Who was involved? What were the exact circumstances? Take notes. You’ll need to verify and take appropriate action. The gossiper will be hesitant to repeat a story (even it if has a kernel of truth) if it’s obvious that you are going to note and check the details.
Many times gossip flies when management hasn’t shared appropriately with staff. Of course, some things are necessarily kept private, but when it has an impact on the workers or the work they do, good communication will keep the truth at the forefront and the interpretations to a minimum. Your hospital should always share:
- A clear vision
- Core values that are clearly expressed and used for running the business
- Solid processes that are documented
- An accountability chart that’s complete and up-to-date
- A system for evaluating each individual’s performance
If management has developed good systems and shared all this information, there is really no soup for the gossip to stir up!