Stop the Gossip and Save the Team

Bill Nelson asked:

Without doubt one of the single biggest team slayers is ‘gossip’. It is a form of communication that is found in some, if not all situations of a modern society.

If allowed to exist, it can stifle and in severe case totally destroy a situation.

But why is it so widespread?

What is it that makes people continue to spread rumour and innuendo?

In most cases it comes down to acceptance. Psychology has indicated through a series of studies, that the main reason for people to continue to generate information that is based on limited information and half truths is because they feel this will give them acceptance within the group.

So perhaps one way of slowing the gossip process is to get the group to accept the perpetrator of the gossip in some other way. To provide them with an opportunity to be accepted by the group in some other manner so that there is no reason for them

to continue to communicate incorrect or false information.

At the same time there also needs to be further steps taken. In an ongoing and severe case, obviously confrontation comes to mind and it would probably need to be done not just by the leader of the team, but by some of the team members as well.

The confrontation does not need to be in a negative sense butthe use of the strengths and unity of the team to highlight toanother team member that they have other qualities that the team admires and requires and it doesn’t require the gossip.

Another way to overcome gossip is to create a better communication strategy and environment. Rediscover the opportunities that have or currently exist for truly effective communication and start to create opportunities to utilise these and other forms of communication.

Concurrently try to develop an understanding and an environment that states if the information you receive does not come from any of the stated sources then the chance are it is not right. Effectively what you are doing is creating an environment that will not allow anyone to generate gossip within it. For if the perpetrator chooses to continue to generate gossip they will be directly infringing the trust, culture and philosophy of the team.

In rediscovering the structure of communication ask the question.

“Does the current structure add to or detract forthe need to gossip?”

As one of the reasons for gossip being generated maybe that the formal communication process is less than what is required. With his lack of formal communication there comes the feeling of allowing any piece of information that closely resembles the truth gets spread through the team like wildfire.

Stop the gossip. Save the team. Look for the reasons why there is a need to gossip and fix them. The team will be so much stronger and better aligned if the communication process is based on fact not rumour and innuendo.

© 2008 Total Performance Concepts Pty Ltd

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