I have always been curious about why people love to gossip and talk behind each other’s backs. It seems to bring great joy to people when they share negativity or put another person down. People love to share a negative story of gossip with whoever will listen or even fuel the fire when hearing gossip. I don’t get it!
In my experience, this erodes trust and diminishes respect. If you are talking to me negatively about someone or gossiping behind someone’s back it tells me, I too will be your target one day. It also suggests that you lack confidence in your ability to communicate openly and honestly to the right person.
If you ask a person if they feel confident in their ability to provide direct feedback, they will always say yes. However, it is a rare person who will do it. They will talk to everyone except the person that should be hearing the message. Again, I don’t get it. This approach not only wastes time and energy but also creates what I call a “negativity hangover”. The regret you feel after saying negative things about another person.
Because I always try to neutralize negativity, I will challenge people to go directly to the person they are “complaining” about. I encourage an open and honest conversation. But almost immediately the person will say it is not a big deal. Then without missing a beat they will find the next person who will hear their story of negativity.
My curiosity about gossip led me to do some research. What I discovered was that people gossip because it gives them a feeling that they possess secret information and with that, they gain a sense of power. People love to be in the know. Knowledge is power; therefore, gossip is supercharged power.
Additionally, gossip is rewarded. People will always jump in and add fuel to the fire. Before you jump on the gossip bandwagon consider this. Gossip is driven by those who have the most fragile egos and who feel the most insecurity in their job. They typically have low self-esteem and confidence. Hence the reason they feel the need to put others down to build themselves up.
Beware of the gossipers as they are the individuals who are attempting to undermine those they see as a threat, or they fear. Gossip is never driven by positivity or kindness. Your reputation as a leader or follower is everything. Earning trust and respect from those you surround yourself with is everything in business. Once your reputation and trust are tarnished it could be near impossible to re-establish yourself. Take the high road, as a leader, diminish gossip and redirect people to the person they should be talking to. This will not only improve trust and respect; it will improve the overall culture and relationships within your business.