How do you feel when someone gossips or complains about someone else? It depends, of course. It can be great to agree because it creates a feeling of bonding. “The two of us agree and it’s us against that person or that issue”. It can be such a relief to vent.
But it may not be what you’d like to do when you think of your best behavior. What would your “best possible self” do? It might feel uncomfortable, especially if the others expect you to agree. You don’t want to lecture them but you don’t want to contribute to the habit of gossip either.
Let’s see how you could respond to gossip or complaints about John. It’s important to acknowledge the others’ underlying need to vent or to bond but also to not engage in the gossip.
Instead, you could say:
“I understand how you feel and have you told this to John?”
If the other objects that John is impossible to talk with you suggest that the other bring a third person to talk with John.
Or ask: “What else could you do to help John understand how you see this issue?”
If it’s gossip, just ask: “Have you talked about this with John himself?”
Positive Agents Respond in Positive Ways
If they continue to gossip, gently but firmly say: “I understand how you feel and I don’t feel comfortable talking about people when they are not in the room. It’s best to tell John, not me.”
Does this take practice and courage? Yes, sometimes. Is it important? Yes, it’s crucial. The more positive agents respond in a positive way, the more they will make others think and change their (inter)actions.How do you respond to gossip? Learn how to help yourself, the gossiper and the subject of gossip. Click To Tweet
How could you apply this to your work and life? What do you need to abstain from joining in the gossip? How could you help yourself, the gossiper and the subject of gossip?
This is book post #59 – Part “YOU”
By the way, if you want to contribute to a positive workplace culture, check out my next open workshop on Positive Culture Change Leadership in 2022! Registration is available at a first come first serve basis.
Leaders, employees, consultants, citizens – everyone can make a positive difference from any position, without needing permission or resources from others. This blog will help you see positive possibilities and (re)claim your positive agency. Unstuck yourself and engage others via your interaction and actions. Transform into a positive organization where people and performance thrive.
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