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Gossip – A Form of Workplace Violence

[ad_1] To many folks, the idea of “workplace violence” connotes the physical harm that one may do to another. However, there is another form of workplace violence that is as dangerous and insidious, and this is workplace gossip.

Gossip is any language that would cause another harm, pain, or confusion that is used outside the presence of another for whom it is intended.

As a facilitator, trainer and business coach, I’ve experienced numerous workplace situations where gossip was a norm. Curiously enough, in these same organizations, most folks would say they were “against” it. Even more, in these same situations, after formal meetings to discuss the “gossip issue,” after sensitivity workshops designed to reduce and eliminate pernicious gossip, after mandating “there be no more gossip…” and after pledging to have more honest, open and direct communication (wherein folks verbalized their “commitment” to speak directly to a colleague, in order to eliminate the “gossip problem,”) many of these same committed folks consciously choose to continue to engage in the practice of gossip.

Why?

Gossip is essentially a form of attack, which often arise from an individual’s conscious and unconscious fears. For some people, their ostensible commitment “not to gossip” is easily lost in their fears, anxieties, or concerns about what their life might be like if they stopped gossiping. (e.g., “Who would I be then?” What would I do then?” “How would I be one of the guys…?” “Would I have to eat lunch alone?” “Would I lose all my friends?”) Some broader definitions of gossip not only relate to “negative” remarks, but even extend to “positive” or “neutral” remarks that are focused on making conversation that is centered on the activities/behaviors of others, again, outside the presence of that person.

Stopping the practice of “talking about others” is challenging for many. Why? Many folks just can’t be authentic in life. So, many revert to the self-defense mechanism of gossiping, which is a…

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Sourced from by Peter Vajda, Ph.D

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