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Gossip improves cooperation within the team

Gossip is a double-edged tool. It can poison the office atmosphere, but it can also be a team builder, helping integration and cooperation.

What is a gossip?


Malicious talk, mocking whispers, damaging rumours? No!


A gossip is actually a conversation between two people about a third person who is not actually present. It is an activity that is as old as human speech, and its function is comparable to that of primate cooing. Research also suggests that the common belief that women gossip more than men is not true. In fact, there is equality between the sexes. It has also been shown that 65-80% of our time talking is spent gossiping (although some people do much more), which is about sharing neutral information three quarters of the time.


Be happy to gossip, because even if you're not happy, it will be a part of your everyday life.

The bright side of gossip

Can we learn from a gossip? For example, a colleague tells a story about how colleague XY took a lot of sick leave when he had no serious symptoms, effectively letting the others down.

In the above conversation, we can learn that in that particular work environment:

  • how much sick leave is subjectively considered "a lot",
  • is it more valuable to have an employee who goes to work sick, even if he or she is a potential source of infection
  • team spirit is an asset

As the subject is the behaviour of a third person, we can learn without direct confrontation how much we share with our colleagues and gain insight into the unwritten details of the corporate culture of our workplace. Research in Silicon Valley in 1985 showed that gossip was a major factor in helping new employees settle in (it was always good to know, for example, what to say and what not to say in front of your boss).

Gossip helps you navigate the world, increases self-esteem, inspires you, lowers blood pressure. 


The birth of malicious gossip, or the drama triangle at work


How does the drama triangle work? If colleague A is annoyed or upset by what colleague B is doing, they rarely come clean directly between themselves. Usually, "A" will contact someone close to him (friend, colleague, family member), "C", and tell him what happened. "C" usually agrees immediately, confirming to "A" that what "B" did was really wrong.


It develops because:


On the one hand, it is basic human functioning to apply double standards. We believe that if someone does something we don't like, it is a qualification of that person's personality, not the circumstances. If we make a mistake, it's the other way around.


For example:


  1. Why was our colleague late for a meeting? Because he is lazy, careless, disrespectful of others. That's his personality.


  1. Why were we late for the meeting? Because the operating system froze, because we wanted to check our notes, because we spilled tea on ourselves at the last minute and had to change clothes. Bad circumstances.


On the other hand, it's easier to avoid confrontation with the person causing the inconvenience and find someone to reinforce you.

How to prevent a drama triangle?

You have to commit to two things:

  1. Team members should try to assume the good about each other. When they experience something disturbing or hurtful from a colleague, try to think empathetically about what circumstances might have caused this to happen despite their good intentions.
  2. Start conflict resolution at the source. In other words, discuss the difficulty with the colleague with whom the incident is shared.

Get more out of the gossip!


Spread positive news! Make it a rumour that someone did something exceptionally well or that they learned from their mistake.


Build community, gossip smartly, from the heart. And if you can't decide whether to pass on what you've heard, Socrates' triple filter can help.


This article was written by our guest author: Csilla Danka


The article is inspired by the following sources:

  • Why  Gossip Starts & Spreads at Work | Joe Mull | TEDxStripDistrict


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