Selling the drama
What’s juicier than a ripe watermelon on a hot summer day? Workplace gossip! But before you start dishing out the latest dirt, let’s take a moment to ponder how all that chitchat can make our office feel like high school all over again. It’s time to kick gossip to the curb and create a workplace where good vibes flow freely.
Can we even stop the gossip?
First, why should you even care about gossip in your hospital? Putting aside how important it is for your hospital’s culture and team, it’s also about your own reputation. When you jump on that gossip train, spreading rumors and bad-mouthing others, you paint a not-so-pretty picture of yourself.
It’s also a bad look to be associated with people doing these things. It will damage the trust you’ve built with co-workers and can stop you from advancing in your career if you’re labeled as someone that creates drama and negativity on teams.
Spreading rumors might seem thrilling, but it plants negativity in your brain that can take over your mood and the vibe you create around yourself.
7 Rules for a gossip-free practice
Rule #1—Lead by example
When people see others refraining from gossiping, they are more likely to follow suit. I have two phrases in my toolbelt for this one. If you want no part of the idle gossip and just want to move on with your day, I recommend, “I have no opinion about that.”
It stops the conversation, it’s a refusal to get involved, and it’s over.
If it sounds like a genuine problem is the root cause of the gossip, and you feel like you can genuinely help the person, I recommend asking, “Can I help you come up with what to say to them?”
This lets the person know you aren’t there to just listen to negative talk, but you are willing to help them organize their thoughts and work through what they might say directly to the person. This redirects the conversation in the most productive direction.
Rule #2—Enforce clear expectations in a code of conduct
Incorporate clear guidelines and policies about gossip in the workplace’s code of conduct. Ensure that employees are aware of the consequences of engaging in this kind of behavior. Setting expectations creates a sense of responsibility and accountability among your team members.
This also means getting rid of toxic team members! If an employee has been repeatedly spoken to about their behavior and refuses to change, it’s time to vote them off the island.
Rule #3—Foster a positive environment
A workplace that promotes positivity reduces the likelihood of gossip taking root. Celebrate the heck out of achievements and acknowledge your team’s hard work openly. Encourage employees to appreciate each other’s contributions and build a sense of camaraderie. When employees feel valued and supported, gossip is less likely to find fertile ground.
Rule #4—Talk, talk, talk
Often, gossip arises from miscommunication or a need for more information. Encourage open communication where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns or seeking clarification. Establish regular team meetings and one-on-one sessions to address issues promptly and transparently.
Rule #5—Offer conflict resolution training
Providing conflict resolution training equips employees with the necessary skills to handle disagreements and disputes constructively. When employees are confident in their ability to address conflicts directly, they are less likely to resort to gossip as an outlet for their frustrations.
Rule #6—Provide channels for anonymous reporting
While open communication is vital, some employees will never feel comfortable coming forward with issues. Accept and embrace this by implementing anonymous reporting channels for employees to share their concerns. Anonymity allows employees to speak up without fear, enabling management to address problems that would have otherwise gone unreported.
Rule #7—Give them empathy training
Organize team-building activities to strengthen bonds among employees. These activities encourage collaboration, empathy, and understanding among team members, reducing the likelihood of them speaking negatively about one another.
Stopping gossip in the workplace is a collective effort that requires strong leadership, open communication, and a commitment to building a positive workplace culture. By fostering an environment where employees feel valued, heard, and respected, gossip can be stopped in its tracks. Remember, a gossip-free workplace not only boosts productivity but also enhances employee satisfaction and wellbeing.
Photo credit: © beast01 E+ via Getty Images Plus
Jenn Galvin owns and manages Advanced Animal Care, a companion animal hospital located in Arizona. She has been in the veterinary industry for over 25 years, and she is a true nerd at heart, with a passion for staff development, inventory, and veterinary financials.
Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors.