Gossip is known to destroy teamwork, morale, create toxic, build distrust and even cause talent in your organisation to leave. It is destructive and can cost your organisation a lot of money in terms of lack of productivity and a drain on human talent.
According to Wikipedia, gossip is defined as:
“Idle talk or rumour, especially about the personal or private affairs of others; the act is also known as dishing or tattling.”
Since it is idle talk or rumour, it does not help to build up people or teams.
Gossip itself is not negative, but what you gossip about determines whether it has a positive or negative impact.
A change of perspective
What if you could use it to your advantage in creating positivity and forward momentum in your team? This is where resource gossip comes in.
It actually focuses on intentional talk and facts instead of idle talk or rumours.
Resource gossip is talking about what a person or team has done right, how they have contributed to each other or anything that is useful. It focuses on positive issues that have happened.
Backed by research
A research was conducted by Dr Jennifer Cole and Hannah Scrivener from Staffordshire University. 140 participants were asked to talk either positively or negatively about a fictional person. Those who talked positively felt higher self-esteem than those who talked negatively.
Concluding this study, Dr Cole says that “Gossiping is usually seen as a bad thing. Our findings suggest some forms of gossiping – particularly of the type where people praise others – could be linked with some desirable outcomes for the gossiper despite the fact that gossipers are not generally approved of.”
Another independent study was conducted by Professor Kirk Chang of Salford Business School in conjunction with Chien-Chih Kuo from National Chenchi University, Taiwan. Participants were randomly chosen across seven industries in Taiwan. They include 130 managers and 231 of their subordinates.
The analysis of the study concluded that the managers’ positive gossip provided a sense of emotional support to the subordinates. Subordinates reciprocate this support by showing commitment towards their managers. Furthermore, subordinates perceived better mental health, team empowerment and job embeddedness at work. This showed that managers’ positive gossip made subordinates feel better.
Opposite results were found when managers gossiped negatively about subordinates.
Professor Chang said: “Gossip is a term that carries some negative connotations, but our research suggests that managers who gossip positively with the team members are likely to maintain a more committed workforce.
In summary, resource gossip is useful for a few reasons:
1. It brings attention to the person you are “gossiping” about what they have done right. This will help him/her to recognise success or strengths.
2. It helps to build relationships between the resource gossiper and the other person. Doesn’t it feel amazing that someone tells you what you are doing well?
How do you start a resource gossip?
Start by selecting the person you want to talk about in your team. Get the person to listen to the conversation that you will have with other colleagues regarding him/her.
Talk about the strengths displayed, what has this person done well and give evidence of it. After that, ask other colleagues to contribute more.
Who can you do this for?
Consider doing this for your boss, team members, clients, parents, friends and even children.
I have tried this with teams and most of them leave the session uplifted and happy. Some realised their new found strengths and even expressed gratitude to those who affirmed them.
Try this out and I am sure it will do wonders for you.