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Ever worked for a company or organization where you’ve dreaded going into work? If you haven’t, consider yourself blessed. For many Americans, this is a recurring reality. One of the leading causes for a dreadful work environment is a lack of unity due to workforce factions caused by gossip and slander. When disarray occurs within a work environment, it can be very costly. Replacing despondent workers because of harmful water cooler chit-chat, peer persecution and oppression creates a revenue loss due to lost productivity and turnover.
There are about 1.7 million posters in the world that spout some sort of clique adage or another about teamwork. “Teamwork makes the dream work” or “there is no I in teamwork”. Sadly, most workplaces are the antithesis of the inspirational posters that decorate their offices and corridors. Office gossip has surged to such enormous levels that it is considered to be a form of bullying and/or harassment. In an article on office bullying, Psychology Today lists rumors and gossip not only as a bullying tactic but as a workplace torture tactic. Dave Ramsey states in an article on the 5 Enemies of Unity that gossip is an eroding entity, “an acid that will eat away at the unity you’ve built with your team.” Dave even uses an analogy wherein gossip erodes team unity, much like the Atlantic Ocean has eroded the land around the Morris Island light house in Charleston Harbor.
Many corporations and organizations, including Dave Ramsey’s have a zero tolerance gossip rule; the punishment of which is immediate termination. The three strikes you’re out rule does not apply in many institutions. In Dave’s world, one warning is all a gossip offender gets before being dismissed from his/her position because gossip destroys people and companies and calls for drastic consequences. Sounds extreme, but is it? In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul gives a list of some sinful actions that he states are, “worthy of death”. This list contains “envy, murder, deceit, malice” and…yes, gossip and slander.
Proverbs 11:13 states “a gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” So how do you know if what you are hearing is gossip? Ask these questions: Is this a positive conversation about someone or does it undermine or degrade someone? Is it fact; can it be proved? Is the conversation you are taking part in solving a problem or creating one? One of my former pastors used to say something to the effect of, “if you aren’t part of the solution to a problem, then you shouldn’t be talking about it.”
Clear lines of communication between a leader and his/her team can help create a more pleasant work place where rumors and gossip are squashed before they get started. When employees are confident they can take their problems and concerns to a higher power and those problems will be dealt with fairly, they are less likely to gripe and gossip. Studies show that happy workers are more productive, work better with others, are more creative and moreover; happy workers fix problems instead of creating or complaining about them. The average workday ranges between 8-10 hours; that is one third or more of your day spent with co-workers. A safe, gossip free workplace is essential for unity and productivity. After all, who wants a complaining gossip bringing them down all day?