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Stop Complaining About Your Coworkers Behind Their Back

Summary.
Many of us believe that we’re above workplace gossip, and that we never engage in it. But, if you’ve ever participated in a “confirmation expedition” — whereby you 1) ask a colleague to confirm their own negative or challenging experience with a third colleague who is not present, or 2) welcome a similar line of confirmation inquiry from another colleague about a third colleague who is not present, you are in fact engaging in gossip. By talking to anyone, everyone, or even one person about another colleague who isn’t there to hear the feedback, provide his or her perspective, and engage in joint problem solving, you are undermining the benefits of an open, honest relationship and a feedback-rich culture. To stop this kind of behavior, we have to first call gossip “gossip” to stop it in its tracks. Most people will step back at hearing a colleague say, “This sounds like gossip. Is that what you intended?” Then, pivot the conversation by asking, “How can I help you get a better outcome?” Only engage in coaching, brainstorming, and problem-solving conversations — not in problem-confirming expeditions.

 

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