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Corporate cultures are not single-handedly built by executives and managers. They are the cumulative byproduct of the participation of each individual involved in an organization. Too often, staff ignore the fact that they have a direct impact on the quality of their workplace culture and leave it up to management to fix things. This approach allows staff to disregard the role they play in improving and managing the quality of interpersonal dynamics they themselves create.

It is important to bring to light the various roles team members may adopt from time to time which lead to the disintegration of the fabric of a healthy corporate culture. In doing so, we hope that staff will be better equipped to distinguish destructive from constructive interpersonal interactions.

Gossiping, backtalking and tattletaling are destructive behaviors often present in unhappy workers. Gossip can spring up in organizations for a variety of reasons. Staff and organizations should be concerned by gossip as it directly impacts trust, fosters unresolved conflict, creates a lack of commitment, distracts people from their work, and decreases productivity. Gossip creates dividers between those who work together, it compromises customer service, and it can cause pain to people who are the targets. Gossip consumes much more time at work than one thinks. In some organizations, gossip is the single largest factor which decreases productivity and the greatest damaging factor to Trust.

There are plenty of Gossipers among the adult population. They are often those who have not made it to the level they believe they should have reached. They also believe that their turn will come to them only if they bring other people down. They live by the idea that there is only so much success to go around, and because only so many people can be successful, a gossiper may spend long hours trying to get rid of those who they feel they are in competition with. Gossipers can also be people who are feeling hopeless or helpless at changing a situation or someone.

Most often, just about all co-workers are seen as a threat to someone who gossips. Usually, a gossiper is not a team player, and is not well liked by all other co-workers. Within the organization, almost all employees know who the gossiper is and they go to great lengths to avoid him or her. A gossiper has a talent for seeking out disgruntled workers, and they manipulate them into their conspiracy corner.

Through time, a constant gossiper will become more confident. With the sense of confidence growing, so will the spreading of rumors. The rumors can be focused upon any employee. The criteria for becoming the target of a gossiper can be varied; perceived as being too friendly with management, too successful, receiving special privileges, and on those who have secured a promotion or won a competition. The gossiper does not like losing. In the end, the aim of gossip is to discredit and vilify the targeted individual.

Chronic gossipers are most often high maintenance employees. Gossipers are often unhappy about an issue and attack the person associated with the issue rather than the issue itself. It should also be noted that when the most influential people in the organization, formal and informal leaders, exemplify proper behaviors and are committed to having a healthy trusting corporate culture, then others will either soon follow or will move on to another environment that resonates with their attitudes.

Six Ways to Detect a Chronic Gossiper:

1. Chronic gossipers will always be able to find something to gossip about. On the average, a gossiper has low self-esteem, and by gossiping about others, their feeling of being powerless decreases.

2. Gossips look to gain favor and power for themselves by sharing gossip with others, and typically they will gain feelings of power by isolating certain individuals, who become the topic of their gossip.

3. On average, a gossiper lacks the ability to trust. If they do learn to trust an individual, then it takes a great deal of time. They usually will not trust someone immediately.

4. A gossiper feels the need to play people against one another. This is usually done through the creation of friendship triangles.

5. Often times a gossiper feels the need to divide and conquer groups that already have an established trusting friendship.

6. Feelings of chronic rage and resentment can be observed in a gossiper. A chronic gossiper seeks to have constant affirmation.

Gossiping on the job is becoming an increasing problem and many businesses are seeking to end this ancient art of conversing. It seems to me that no matter what an organization does to improve their communication channels, there are always going to be angry and disgruntled employees who choose to use destructive communication patterns about the organization or their coworkers.

At Forge Coaching and Consulting we offer a coaching approach to help employees work toward building healthy team dynamics and to curb inappropriate communication and behavioral patterns. We believe that leaders are found at all levels in an organization and that each individual has the choice to be a positive or negative change agent in the workplace culture. What role will you choose?

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