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Using Gossip To Your Career Advantage

Nov 9, 2007
There is one thing in life that is as inevitable as death and taxes, and that is the existence of gossip. In a perfect world, rumor mongers don't exist, but this has never been a perfect world. Gossip and people who gossip are a fact of life.

Gossip is a fact of life - not just in the workplace, but everywhere a group of people gather. Housewives gossip; they exchange the latest juicy news over the fence, by phone, at the PTA meetings, etc. Even CEOs and company executives also engage in it. They may discuss the latest industry developments with their fellow CEOs during lunch at the Rotary Club meeting but, at the end of the day, what they're doing is exchanging gossip - especially if they're talking about matters that have not been officially announced.

-- The Two Channels of Human Communication ---

There are two channels of communication in every aspect of human activity: the official or formal channel where pronouncements from the higher ups are sent down to the lower rungs. The official version is what's on paper and what's professed by the employers.

Then there is the unofficial or informal channel, also known as the grapevine and the source of the so-called gossip and rumors. The informal channel is where official versions are speculated upon and colored by personal opinions and subjective assessments.

Aside from delving into company business, gossip also deals in talk about the latest Hollywood love affair gone sour, malicious and personal attacks, harmless chatter about company love affairs, what the cafeteria will serve, which stores have a promotional offer at the mall, etc.

--- Using the Grapevine to Your Advantage ---

There are two things to keep in mind about gossip: one, that there is no avoiding it; and twSteven French is a recruitment consultant to http://www.UteachRecruitment.com - the specialist UK teaching jobs recruitment agency. Visit Uteach Recruitment to find your perfect UK teaching job today.o, there are often useful - even valuable - nuggets of information that can be gleaned from gossip. The important thing is to separate the valuable information from the gibberish. Here are some guidelines to help you distinguish useful information from the dross.

Let it slide Pay no heed to personal, vindictive or malicious attacks, especially those that aim to damage the reputation of people or companies and especially if you're working for those people or for that company.

If you are always affected by gossip and you try to shut it down, you're going to live your whole life aggravated and you're not going to be able to change a thing. Even if you fire every one of the people who help spread gossip around, you're only going to stop it for a while, until it begins again.

Be on the lookout On the other hand, pay attention to rumors about your workplace - but try to validate or disprove this as soon as possible. There is a difference between malicious, nasty or spiteful rumors - and information that may have a negative impact on your company and your position. Learn to distinguish between the two.

Evaluate gossip carriers Pinpoint the most active gossip suppliers, and categorize them according to their reliability. Use your personal rating to interpret the value of the gossip being spread. The CIA, FBI and every other intelligence agency does the same thing - why shouldn't you?

Supply positive gossip Use the grapevine to feed positive news. Gossip flows two ways; use the grapevine as a means to circulate good news about your company or the people you work with.

Confront the source If the gossip is about you and is a pack of lies, confront the source and set the record straight. This is the only time where you are allowed to take gossip seriously; ignore it as best as you can at all other times.

The above guidelines will make for a more congenial working environment and less headaches for you as a manager. Best of all, you will be using the grapevine to your advantage rather than be a victim of it.
About the Author
Steven French is a recruitment consultant to http://www.UteachRecruitment.com - the specialist UK teaching jobs recruitment agency. Visit Uteach Recruitment to find your perfect UK teaching job today.
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