22 August 2007

Bad habit: gossip to more than one person

Now, I'm not saying that gossiping to one person is a great idea. Gossip at your own peril, Cap'n Chatty. But if gossiping is in your nature then plan well, be discreet, make no records (yes, please do assume that IM recorded everything you typed and served it up to your boss and the whole of the internet), and please only gossip to one trusted confidante (preferably not a coworker). If you gossip to blow off steam – find another outlet because you are greatly increasing the chance that you are headed for a fall. At least don’t lie or exaggerate. When you get caught gossiping, at least be able to back up your slander with fact or some kind of evidence.

When you gossip to multiple people, you greatly increase the chance of spreading the gossip. You are implying that it is not a secret, and each of your vectors can point to one another to say they’re not the one. Secrets are a burden on others anyhow, so that cat’s probably coming out of the bag.

If you are gossiping to more than one trusted confidante I’ll go out on a limb and say that there’s a good chance that you don’t have even one confidante. But you do have poor judgment in where to place your trust.

If you told two people something, one of them is going to tell me. They will tell me because gossiping is a social lubricant and a guilty pleasure. They will tell me because today you made them mad. They will tell me because you badmouthed me and I’m a standup guy. They will tell me because you haven’t told them anything juicy lately and they are bored and I brought in cookies today and they are really good and did I know that… They will tell me because I said something interesting and they want to say something interesting too. They will tell me because what if I flip out: trainwrecks are fun to rubberneck at. They will tell me because they can’t stand gossipers, but…

Seriously, they are going to tell me. They do tell me. I wouldn't be writing this if there hadn't been a decade-long flow of people into and out of my office to drop off dirty laundry.

You’ll be lucky if I’m the first or only person they tell. Because I like to gossip and I know full well that it’s a terrible idea. So if I’m feeling strong and virtuous, I’ll tell them to kindly not go any further. And then I’ll tell you.

1 comment:

Joel413 said...

A War Story
by Joel Larson

Once upon a time, a friendly IT worker was riding in the elevator when he had a strange premonition about a friend at work. Stepping off the elevator, he turned west towards the friends office instead of east towards his own. Upon arriving at said co-workers daytime home, out friendlt IT guy asked the officemate, "Where's Friend?"

The officemate responded, "She no longer works here, if you want to know more you'll have to go and talk to 'higher up the corporate ladder'."

Unbeknownst to friendly IT guy, whose job it is to disable accounts among other security related tasks on the network whenever an employee departs, went and checked with several other co-workers who should be 'in the know' none of them were aware of 'Friend's' departure either.

Sensing gossip was brewing, friendly IT guy went to Open-door HR Director and asked if the appropraite procedure was being followed for 'Friend'. And was given a very politically correct HR answer, which was sufficient for friendly-IT guys needs for his job.

Slightly saddened that 'Friend' was now gone, friendly IT guy returned to his office and when asked by other people whom it had been discussed with before what happened to 'Friend', friendly IT guy passed along the politicaly-correct HR answer reminding people who should have been in the know what that they didn't need to know any more than that.

Friendly IT guys desire for gossip really pined for more knowledge, but good worker friendly IT guy knew that he had all the information he needed to know. And that next time, it may just be better to go to open-door HR director with these questions to begin with.